Burson-Marsteller has developed proprietary knowledge and expertise on the topic of CEOs and Corporate Reputation, based on proprietary research and investigation.


Superior knowledge differentiates Burson-Marsteller from its competition. From a strategic standpoint, Burson-Marsteller wanted to know what drove corporate reputation -- why certain companies were held in high regard. We wished to identify the critical elements of corporate reputation to offer our colleagues and clients reliable research to help them improve corporate image and valuation.

Led by Dr. Leslie Gaines-Ross, Burson-Marsteller investigated the attributes of the Fortune 500’s “Most Admired Companies.” This corporate reputation research continues to be updated every year in a close collaboration with Fortune magazine. Our research has not only uncovered new information that can materially benefit our clients, it has helped establish a partnership with one of the leading global publications capable of having an impact on corporate reputation.


Our corporate reputation research has led to follow-up studies on CEO reputation, the “seasons” of a CEO’s career and what is currently “On the Minds of CEOs.” Major initiatives include two landmark, groundbreaking studies on CEO reputation and its impact on corporate reputation. We found that CEO reputation can represent a staggering 45% of a company’s reputation and have a tremendous impact on shareholder value. This news, released in February 2000, got the attention of CEOs, their influencers and the financial community. The results of our research were published in 2000; sample studies and publicity articles are included for review.

The chief executive is the ultimate business communicator in terms of corporate image. Yet,

public relations professionals have had a difficult time reaching CEOs. CEO Reputation research has created new opportunities to consult with CEOs and it has made CEOs more aware of the power of communications.


The research has been conducted with the highest levels of integrity using the latest research technology.  The studies have involved thousands of interviews, i.e., 1400 individuals were surveyed for our study on CEO Reputation.  As a measure of our research integrity, we have been asked to partner with Fortune magazine on surveys. Our strategic partnership with Fortune is another dimension of the unique public relations service we can offer a client, and the respect being accorded to these studies and our industry. Articles and interviews have also appeared on CNNfn, in Forbes, Reputation Management, The Christian Science Monitor, Across the Board, Leaders, Chief Executive Magazine, and Directorship magazine.

Burson-Marsteller has published the results of the research, making it available to the business community and other public relations professionals.  We have also publicly disclosed our recommendations for improving CEO and corporate reputation, such as “The Seven Effective Habits of Successful CEOs.”  

In 2000, we have applied our expertise to other studies, such as “The First 100 Days of the CEO,” “The Seasons of a CEO,” and what is “On the Minds of CEOs.” We developed our own Web site, CEOgo.com, contributed to and published articles.  Our research has extended beyond the United States into the global arena, such as Europe and Asia, where Burson-Marsteller professionals have added regional data to refine the focus.

The most notable presentations of our research include:

  • Corporate Reputation Conference, Amsterdam, April 2000
  • Conference Board, Corporate & CEO Reputation, May 2000
  • Conference Board, 2000 Corporate Image Conference Asia, Hong Kong, May 2000
  • CEO Roundtable, Reputation Management, June 2000
  • Ernst & Young, Measuring the Future, November 2000
  • Fortune Conference, On The Minds of CEOs, New York, November 2000

In this submission, we illustrate the different ways that our research was presented in 2000:

  • Maximizing CEO Reputation, research report released in February 2000.
  • Seasons of a CEO and The CEOs First 100 Days, research released in September 2000
  • On the Minds of CEOs, research report released in November 2000
  • The Changing Importance of Corporate Image and the Role of the CEO in Asia, research reported in a speech, May 2000
  • PR Week/Burson-Marsteller CEO Survey 2000, reported in PR Week
  • CEOgo.com
  • Byline articles, publicity coverage  


Corporate and CEO Reputation research has enhanced Burson-Marsteller’s brand, and we believe it has brought new respect to our industry, opening the doors to the executive suite. Reputation research has established Burson-Marsteller as a thought leader on worldwide CEO panels and in publications, generating publicity and new business for the firm.  

In business, we are seeing changes in the executive suite. Change is coming more quickly in the U.S. and Europe, but Asia is not far behind. The dynamic for top executives certainly has changed – CEOs are under more stress, they are held more directly accountable for stock price, and succession is a critical issue as value is more clearly linked to CEO image. Recognizing the importance of the CEO -- board members, management teams, consultants and shareholders have put more pressure on the CEO to conform to model behavior.  CEO positions are going unfilled as company's search for more ideal candidates, and candidates resist the pressure and glare of the spotlights.
We are also seeing other results because of the tangible link between corporate reputation, image and valuation.  As these relationships become more evident in the research and the CEO’s role becomes more public -- the importance of perception management, public relations and communications are heightened. This elevates the public relations profession, both conceptually and financially, opening new areas for strategic consulting.