Where Have All the CEOs Gone?

CEO visibility, or lack of it, is an ongoing PR issue and one that has been frequently mentioned at media industry events. Examples abound of corporate leaders who are tight-lipped during tough times or deliver misleading comments. Many CEOs only make a public appearance when the news is favorable or prefer to network with each other at gatherings such as the annual summer conference in Sun Valley for media and tech leaders.

Instead of covering this topic in our usual manner, we’re borrowing an alternate approach from Calvin Trillin. As an author, humorist and longtime contributor to The New Yorker, Trillin often wrote poems about politicians and current events. Inspired by his rhyming wizardry, we thought this would be an effective style for tackling the CEO dilemma.

CEO (In)visibility

The problem:

CEOs are ultimately accountable
Even when issues seem insurmountable
In the business world there is constant disaster
If not handled well, things get worse much faster

CEOs collect exorbitant pay
But when crises hit most have nothing to say
Or if they do it is after delay
Or they use stand-ins who get in the way

Richard Edelman, a renowned PR pro
Thinks CEO public face-time has hit a new low

While most CEOs rather just balk
Jamie Dimon is known for tough talk
He fessed up when his bank’s trading loss came to light
But on credit card rate rigging was not as forthright

Micky Arison is Carnival Corp’s CEO
Though when Costa cruise hit rocks he was a no-show
He didn’t venture over to the Italian coast
But when Miami Heat won, he gave the owner’s toast

The solution:

What we need here is a reversal
For some top brass, it may take rehearsal
That’s what media training is for
It shouldn’t be perceived as a chore

It’s hard to arrive at the perfect word
To deliver bad news, but it needs to be heard
And for the record, the phrase that we fear
Is “no comment,” let’s just make that clear

The last thing to do is go into hiding
Since on your shoulders the org has a lot riding
And if you frequently travel
Keep tabs back at home in case things unravel

Then when it’s time for the earnings report
Don’t make excuses, just say they fell short
As leaders you should seek corporate history
Not leave your reactions a complete mystery

CEOs, since you’re a much maligned group
Get with the program and give us the scoop