The Importance of making your CEO visible on your IR website
29 November 2012
Fogel & Partners and Eklips Digital Advisors from Stockholm, Sweden have just published a fascinating new study. The study looks at how visible the CEOs from the top earning companies on the NASDAQ exchange are. For many CEOs, they only make themselves visible around earnings time, when they lead conference calls and presentations to investors, generally with carefully crafted content. After the earnings period is over, the CEO typically disappears back behind the scenes, not to be seen or heard by investors until the next quarterly call.
This particular study is a survey of all 58 CEOs on the NASDAQ OMX Large Cap. They checked out the companies corporate website to see how much information on the CEO there was and how much of a digital presence they had. You can review the study in its’ entirety below. After this, we have also extracted some interesting tidbits from the study.
BIOGRAPHIES & IMAGES
Looking at the Biographies and Images section, we can see that most CEOs are fairly lacking in visibility on their own sites. While the majority (60%) of the websites featured a brief biography on their CEO, an alarming 24% featured no information on their CEO at all.
The biography section is a great opportunity to share some of the qualifications of your CEO and give an idea of the goals and plans for the company. New and current investors would value the opportunity to get a better understanding of who the person at the helm of the company is and what their previous experience and expertise is. While a picture may not tell the full story on your CEO, it is important to have one. As it helps humanize the CEO by giving visitors to your site a visual reference. Thankfully, over 70% feature at least a few (<5) pictures of the CEO.
When looking at the presentations section, we see even less of presence of the CEO at hand. Only 12% of the companies surveyed highlighted more than 5 CEO presentations while 40% featured no CEO presentations at all. CEO presentations are highly valuable to investors because they supply a personal perspective of company performance from a highly recognized executive. How a CEO chooses to address the performance of the company is important to investors.
The left chart above shows that very few of the surveyed companies supplied transcripts of their CEO’s speeches – and 80% of company websites feature no transcripts at all. Providing transcripts from corporate meetings and presentations is becoming a common practice. There is a lot of benefit of posting the transcripts as it allows investors who are looking to review specific sections from the presentation the luxury of skipping to the section they are interested, as opposed to using up valuable time to search through the audio recording.
Looking at the presence of CEO statements on corporate websites, it is nice to see that 100% of the top companies on the NASDAQ feature written statements from the CEO. Typical statements from the CEO are in the form of a ‘President’s Message’, usually extracted from the most recent annual report. And depending on the company, this CEO message stays up until the next annual report. That said, investors like to read these messages and if written well i.e. with the investor in mind, can provide insights into the CEO’s vision for the company.
From the chart on the right above we can see that audio/video of CEOs is still lacking. With the majority of websites (79%) featuring no audio or video content from their CEO. Audio and video technology such as YouTube has become increasingly important in how people consume information on the Internet. The majority of companies are missing out on a fantastic opportunity to get their CEOs out for investors to see and have their image become an important part of their brand.
Along with surveying the top company corporate sites on the NASDAQ, Fogel & Partners and Eklips Digital Advisors also checked out various social media channels to see how many CEOs were making use of social media to make themselves more visible to investors.
LINKEDIN & TWITTER
In the case of LinkedIn, only 16% of CEOS have their own personal account. This really is a missed opportunity, as having a profile on LinkedIn is a great way to promote themselves and their company brand on a platform where people are looking for professional information. Investors who are looking for information on a CEO’s credentials would likely be checking LinkedIn to get a sense of what this CEO has brought to other companies in the past. It can also provide insight as to whether the CEO has the adequate experience and background for their current role.
Twitter has an even smaller amount of CEO users with only 1 person surveyed having a personal Twitter account. Again, the majority of the CEOs are missing an excellent opportunity to potentially engage and connect with investors and other key constituents. Although it is important that any use of social media by public companies is well thought out and that nothing that hasn’t been published through the proper disclosure channels is shared.
YOUTUBE & SLIDESHARE
While it is less likely for CEOs to have personal YouTube and SlideShare accounts, it would make sense for video and presentation content from them to be present on their company channels. Just over a quarter of the companies surveyed published videos of their CEO through their YouTube account. Video content gives investors the opportunity to get a better feeling for what a CEO is like personally and gives them the feeling of being in the boardroom. It is also beneficial for investors who can’t physically attend events such as an annual meeting in person.
SlideShare is only a little behind YouTube, with 19% of the companies featuring highlighted CEO presentations on their SlideShare account. SlideShare is an excellent channel for companies to showcase their corporate presentations. Including CEO presentations on SlideShare creates a better-rounded channel with lots of different types of presentations that visitors would find useful.
While CEO visibility seems unreasonably low, it is safe to assume, as more investors become savvy investigators on the web, they will start to demand higher visibility from corporate CEOs. Likewise, as corporations begin to see more success from their digital communications efforts, hopefully it will become common practice to make use of the digital space to promote the CEO to bring a face to the brand that will promote leadership and growth.