Media coverage of CEOs has significantly increased in recent decades, and many CEOs have come to accept that interacting with a dispersed audience via the media has become a leadership activity. However, the discourse about leadership communication is almost exclusively linked to growth. Very little is known about the presentation of CEOs in the media when their corporations are shrinking in value, or when the economy is in a downturn. News factor theory would suggest what the average consumer of business news already suspects: during an economic downturn, more CEOs become harbingers of negative corporate news and the personification of corporations in the media by the CEO is likely to be high. However, the information subsidy approach would suggest that the ability of a CEO to influence the scope of topics remains high because of an economic downturn. We categorised all articles pertaining to the CEOs of the 100 largest Western corporations between 2007 and 2010, and next content-analysed 1,362 articles pertaining to CEOs whose media presentation had high personification and/or broad scope. Personification in the business news seems to be inescapable for CEOs during a downturn, but only if their corporations are faring worse than the general economy. Meanwhile, the scope of topics included in business news about CEOs varies broadly and does not appear to be linked to value contraction of corporations. From the composition of the media coverage categorised here, corporate leaders can glean which topics serve to either broaden or specify their presentation in the business news media during economic downturn.
business news, CEO, information subsidy, news factor theory
Business and Corporate Communications
Corporate Reputation Review
The Presentation of CEOs in Economic Downturn. (2013). Corporate Reputation Review. 16, (2), 234-243. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School Of Business.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/lkcsb_research/3513