Take the names of the CEO's of the global 500 biggest companies and check if they own their .COM domain name...
A simple task which I undertook with the help of a smart online researcher (Sandeep Veernala) over the last couple of days.
In the context of online reputation management the results are frightening...
Well, let's say I wouldn't like to be the person who is in charge of protecting the image of the company and it's CEO.
Before going into the details of what I found, here is some research to show the importance of good online reputation management and the role of the CEO in this area:
- Research by Weber Shandwick shows that on average, 49% of the reputation of a company is attributable to the reputation of their CEO.
- The Trust Barometer by Edelman states that 43% of informed publics trust CEO's as credible spokespeople.
Cybersquatting - "buying a domain name with the intend to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else" - is a crime in most countries but is on the rise and companies like Apple, Dyson, IKEA, IBM, Intel and LEGO filed cybersquatting disputes last year.
But what if the name of your CEO is up for grabs...?
(Just like it happened to Prince George Alexander Luis recently...)
Back to the research we did...
The exercise was rather simple although it does take time to go through 500 CEO names and check their domain names.
Here's how we did it.
- take a CEO name from the top 500 list found on CNN Money
- check on Godaddy.com if the .com domain name of the CEO is taken
- use "first name, last name".com format and leave out middle names/letters
- annotate where the .com domain name is free, taken or for sale/on auction
The results were staggering.
- Of the 500 CEO names 255 of them were not taken.
- 31 .com domain names were on auction.
- That's more than 51% of the top 500 CEO's at risk of cybersquatting
And we are not talking about small company CEOs here... Without going through the whole list, here are some company names of which their CEO's .com domains are either up for grabs or on auction:
Moller-Maersk Group, La Poste, Microsoft, Loreal, Allianz, Lufthansa Group, ING, Manpower, Ricoh, AstraZeneca, Mazda Motor and more...
We're talking high profile CEO's like Steven Balmer, Paul Bulcke and others...
According to the 2013 Social CEO Report almost 32% of CEOs have at least one profile on some social network...
But they fail to register their .com name ?!
As a Public Relations professional I strongly believe that registering the domain name of the CEO is a basic step. Not only the firstnamelastname.com version but also derivates with some less friendly words in there.
Sure there is the ICAN procedure called Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy but it only works for company/brand names, not the name of a person.
I fully agree with Michael Streko who wrote a very good blog post about this topic more than a year ago but still see the need to buy the CEOs top domain name.
Reputation Management includes online assets and will definitely play a bigger role on social media channels but taking the basic steps is crucial.
If you wish to download the PDF version you can do so as well.
So, what do you think ? Is your CEO's name secure ?
Don't hesitate to get in touch about online reputation management - the first call is free ;-)
*The list was up to date at date of publishing, things change fast - keep this in mind.