ITL #321   Return of the IPRA Gold Paper: the changing face of executive reputation

1 year, 2 months ago


After an 11-year gap, there’s a fresh addition to the prestigious IPRA Gold Paper series. This fascinating new study underlines how digital executive reputation is an increasingly important aspect of a company’s accountability. By Svetlana Stavreva.

The long wait is over, a great tradition has been revived.


This week sees the publication of the first IPRA Gold Paper in 11 years, reawakening a valuable, considered series that explores significant topics of interest to public relations professionals in depth and with rigour. That series began in 1973 (before some of today’s IPRA members were even born!) with Herbert M. Lloyd’s Standards and Ethics of Public Relations Practice and has over the years thoughtfully addressed and assessed many of the most important challenges and issues communicators face.


Gold Papers are one expression of IPRA’s mission for the intellectual leadership of the profession and are authored by recognised specialists, at the invitation of the IPRA Board. As such, they carry huge credibility and prestige.


New IPRA Gold Paper The Changing Face of Executive Reputation is co-authored by Bant Breen and Enric Ordeix. Breen is the founder, chair and CEO of Qnary, while Ordeix, is director of the Blanquerna School of International Communication and sits on the IPRA Board. Together they have brought admirable wisdom and research skills to bear on a fascinating yet under-analysed topic.

In the summer of 2018, Qnary and the BE Center for Global Communications (a shared initiative between Emerson College and The Blanquerna School of Communications) surveyed 6,200 full-time employees across the US, UK, China, Italy, Spain and Australia. The results of that survey provided the foundation for the Gold Paper’s exploration of C-suite reputation and its incontrovertible conclusion that the online reputations of senior C-level executives have become a significant influence on the perception of organisations.

“I founded Qnary based on my recognition that pretty much all the tools being offered to optimise online presence were designed for brands,” Breen tells me. “We quickly found that we were on the leading edge of something big as, today, senior executives are often expected to be engaged publicly and to connect with stakeholders in new ways.  

“Our report shows, unequivocally, that the online reputations of these senior executives have a significant influence on how their organisations are perceived. In addition to its role in shaping public perception, the development of digital executive reputations is being integrated into other functions, including the growth of good morale, a sense of purpose and heightened dynamism throughout the workforce. It is evident from our study that, as a business practice, executive reputation management will continue to grow in importance.”  

Some of the key findings contained in The Changing Face of Executive Reputation are real eye-openers. For example, 56% of the research sample respondents stated that a business executive’s presence on social media positively influences their purchase decisions.

It comes as no surprise that the Millennial generation (digital natives born between 1984-96) are almost twice as likely as older consumers between 45-54 to be influenced by an executive’s digital reputation. We can surely expect to see this engagement increasing as Millennials grow older and are followed by Gen Z and other new generations of digitally literate consumers.

What the Gold Paper makes clear is that the era of the discreet business executive has come to an end. Instead, we have entered a new age of empowered executives.

Members of the leadership team are expected to represent company news and initiatives authentically, to be the human face of a corporation. It’s increasingly down to executives in the C-suite and beyond to seize opportunities to leverage their online reputation in innovative ways – which of course presents communications risks as well as opportunities.

The Gold Paper also highlights that although “star executives” still exist today, the real story is not one of executive celebrity, but rather credibility. The visibility of the C-suite means having a more significant public presence but carries with it the critical task of communicating with greater purpose. As we know, a great comms theme of the times.

I shan’t reveal any more of the fascinating insights and findings from The Changing Face of Executive Reputation here. Rather, I’d urge you to read this excellent Gold Paper in full.

I don’t doubt you’ll find a great deal of useful information – it’s certainly of a calibre for informing future strategies and actions. Given the many discussion points in the text, I hope it will also trigger some forthright and illuminating debate on the IPRA LinkedIn Group. Join that, by the way, if you don’t already belong it’s free.

But back to the important topic the Gold Paper addresses. Executive reputation has always influenced public opinion and has a significant impact on business results as well. In our globally connected world, executive reputation can and should be extended into the digital space, although clearly this must be done with care. That being the case, it has the potential to become even more powerful, adding greater value to the brand.

You will find key hints and tips on how to better leverage digital executive reputation in the Gold Paper. Please download, read and enjoy!

The author

Svetlana Stavreva is IPRA President 2019.





[email protected]

author"s portrait

The Author

Svetlana Stavreva

Svetlana Stavreva is IPRA President 2019.

mail the author
visit the author's website

Forward, Post, Comment | #IpraITL

We are keen for our IPRA Thought Leadership essays to stimulate debate. With that objective in mind, we encourage readers to participate in and facilitate discussion. Please forward essay links to your industry contacts, post them to blogs, websites and social networking sites and above all give us your feedback via forums such as IPRA’s LinkedIn group. A new ITL essay is published on the IPRA website every week. Prospective ITL essay contributors should send a short synopsis to IPRA head of editorial content Rob Gray email


Welcome to IPRA


Follow IPRA: