Just over half of the public say the competence of a company is more important than its character when deciding which companies to buy a product or service from

Four in 10 people now want CEOs to communicate with them on social media

TORONTO, December 20th 2018 – Signal Leadership Communication Inc., a social public relations consultancy exclusively serving CEOs and the c-suite, today released the results of a new public opinion study of 1,000 Canadians conducted by Nanos Research that was designed to explore specific elements of corporate reputation and chief executive communication.

Is the competence (quality of products and services, management ability, financial performance) or the character (governance, ethics, principles before profits) of a company more important to you when deciding about which companies to buy a product or service from?

Just over half (51%) of the public say the competence of a company is more important than its character when deciding about which companies to buy a product or service from, while over one third (37%) say its character is more important.

“In an ideal world, a company’s real character and its actual competence should be at the highest possible standard with corporate communication that ensures accurate public understanding of both these reputation pillars,” says Bob Pickard, Principal of Signal Leadership Communication. “But in the real world, while the public believe both character and competence are important, when forced to choose, a majority say that corporate competence is more important in determining who they buy into. We found this finding interesting in the context of so many companies suffering both character and competence scandals on social media, with many of these exploding into PR disasters.”

Companies collectively offer the reality and the perception of character and competence, but because individual CEOs are the signal personifier of their company’s brand, Signal also wanted Nanos to find out whether the public now wants chief executives to communicate with them directly on social media.

Is it important, somewhat important, somewhat not important or not important that CEOs of leading companies use social media to communicate with the public?

Forty-two percent (42%) of the public say that it is important (11%) or somewhat important (31%) that CEOs of leading companies use social media to communicate with the public, with just over half (53%) of those surveyed saying it is not important (28%) or somewhat not important (25%).

Interestingly, these numbers are almost exactly the same as the results of a poll asking the same question which we conducted last year (in January 2017).

While four of 10 people now want CEOs to communicate with them on social media in general, that number rises to 6 in 10 (61%) when asked if they want CEOs to communicate with the public on social media when a company has a crisis and something major goes wrong (Nanos poll for Signal, June 2018).

“A large percentage of the public expect CEOs to communicate with them on social media, with a majority preference that they be present there ready to address and resolve crisis situations,” says Pickard. “Every day I see more and more CEOs concluding that they should signal their leadership by communicating on social media, with their absence online no longer an acceptable corporate risk.”