Visible CEOs Drive Higher Shareholder Value

June 6th, 2024

Black and white photo of skyscrapers with CEO Impact Index overlayed the top Black and white photo of skyscrapers with CEO Impact Index overlayed the top

Golin’s new CEO Impact Index underscores the business impact of executive visibility.

CHICAGO (June 6th, 2024) – A groundbreaking new study by Golin, an Interpublic Group (NYSE: IPG) agency, indicates that high profile CEOs may act as a multiplier for the business performance of the companies they lead, making a direct impact on shareholder value. The study, named the CEO Impact Index, analyzes the communications strategies of the top 250 CEOs of the Fortune 500. The correlation marks the first time that executive visibility has been linked to clear business performance advantages, highlighting the need for leaders to build and maintain a strong public profile.

“The age-old question for CEOs has been: how important is it to maintain a public profile? What is the return on investment for making time for media interviews, social media or speaking on world stages? Our promising initial findings show that in today’s connected world, it’s essential. Elevating your visibility as a leader can benefit your bottom line,” said Matt Neale, CEO, Golin.

CEO Impact Index Methodology & Promising Correlations

The Golin CEO Impact Index (CII) analyzed 110 data points from each of the Fortune 250 CEOs across eight quantifiable areas of executive visibility: earned media, LinkedIn presence, business rankings, trade engagement, global forums, employee engagement, thought leadership and overall sentiment. Each CEO received individual scores in these areas, which were then combined through a proprietary weighting system to determine their overall ranking. This ranking was then used to evaluate the Top 10, 25, and 50 CII CEOs’ business performances, including metrics such as share price growth, Earnings-per-Share (EPS), and others, versus the comparable set from the Fortune 250 ranking.

“We designed the CEO Impact Index to fully encompass the strategies modern CEOs use to wield influence today,” said Sarah Vellozzi, head of corporate communications, North America, Golin. “With more than 32,000 data points, we believe the CEO Impact Index provides the most nuanced understanding of CEO visibility and its real business impacts to date.”

The Golin analysis points to a ‘visibility dividend’ for corporations. The top 50 CII CEOs enjoyed an 80% higher average annual share price growth compared to the average of the top 50 of their Fortune 250 peers. For the top 10 CII CEOs, the advantage was even more pronounced, with a 239% higher average annual share price growth over their top 10 Fortune 250 counterparts.

This correlation between CEO visibility and business performance held across two years of Fortune data. Golin has committed to undertaking this research annually to continue to explore the relationship between executive visibility and business outcomes.

Other Insights on the Most Visible CEOs

Leveraging advanced AI analysis capabilities, the CEO Impact Index revealed several compelling insights and key learnings from our top rankers:

  • Sentiment Matters: All visibility is not good visibility. Low overall sentiment as a result of high negative exposure undermined some CEOs from what would otherwise be a high CII ranking.
  • Holistic Visibility: The highest ranked CEOs demonstrated above average scores across nearly all criteria, rather than excelling in just one area. A lopsided profile focused solely on earned media mentions or social media influence did not propel CEOs to the top.
  • Thought leadership: Those CEOs with a prominent voice in the top issues driving global business today, such as artificial intelligence, the #1 topic of the year, enjoyed a high overall ranking and stood out against their industry peers.
  • Tech Dominance: CEOs from tech companies, which continue to drive growth and innovation in the global economy, dominated the top 10 CII list. Those with more mainstream consumer engagement, versus strictly B2B companies, fared better. Other industries prominent in the top 25 include financial services, entertainment, and food services.
  • Business Media: The Top 10 CII CEOs together received more than 900,000 media stories in the year, generating nearly 3 trillion media impressions. The volume of business media hugely outweighed consumer/lifestyle coverage by a factor of 5-to-1.

“This study is the most complex data science endeavor I’ve ever been involved in,” said Jonny Bentwood, president, global data & analytics, Golin. “Our team applied advanced modeling and, critically, controlled for industry outliers to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison. Combined with integrated AI tools, we can interrogate the full data set to get incredibly articulate views of each CEO. This is a powerful tool to identify strategic strengths and opportunities for CEOs.”

The CEO Impact Index is available to Golin clients for private consultation. The agency also intends to study the group of 250 CEOs for real-time insights on the public engagement practices of the world’s most prominent CEOs.