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CEO Images in Magazines and Newspapers, 1990-2001: The Growth of CEO Coverage and the Importance of Competence, Personal, and Integrity Dimensions to Image Formation
Unformatted Document Text:  CEO Images in Magazines--8 Image is a contested term (J. Grunig, 1993) that has been used in public relations to mean more or less the same thing as reputation and impression (Coombs, 2001). While differences in meanings among the terms are acknowledged (Dowling, 2001; Hooghiemstra, 2000; Rindova, 1997), in this research the terms are used synonymously. The terms are similar in that they refer to what publics or individuals think about an organization or individual, or the cognitions and perceptions they hold of an individual or organization (Park & Berger, in press). An image, then, is the “impression of a person, company or institution that is held by one or more publics….An image is not a picture, that is, it is not a detailed representation; it is, rather, a few details softened with the fuzziness of perception” (Newsom et al., 1989, p. 364). Given active audiences, images can’t be “managed” (Hutton et al., 2001), but they can be influenced by organizational actions and communications, and substantive relationships developed with others (J. Grunig, 1993). Such actions and communications were found in one study to be more influential on organizational images than other factors (Williams & Moffitt, 1997). Of course, images are constantly in flux, and different organizational publics may have different images of an organization or CEO. CEO representations in media coverage may include particular dimensions of images. These dimensions are signaled in press coverage in different ways, though they are perhaps most apparent when CEO attributes, e.g., education, experience, or personality (J. Grunig, 1993); CEO behavioral indicators (Fombrun, 1996); or evaluative statements about CEOs are present in news stories. The absence or presence of such dimensions does not reveal what images publics may subsequently formulate of CEOs, but it does tell us something about how CEOs are presented or portrayed in press coverage.

Authors: Berger, Bruce. and Park, Dong-Jin.
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CEO Images in Magazines--8
Image is a contested term (J. Grunig, 1993) that has been used in public relations to mean
more or less the same thing as reputation and impression (Coombs, 2001). While differences in
meanings among the terms are acknowledged (Dowling, 2001; Hooghiemstra, 2000; Rindova,
1997), in this research the terms are used synonymously. The terms are similar in that they refer
to what publics or individuals think about an organization or individual, or the cognitions and
perceptions they hold of an individual or organization (Park & Berger, in press). An image, then,
is the “impression of a person, company or institution that is held by one or more publics….An
image is not a picture, that is, it is not a detailed representation; it is, rather, a few details
softened with the fuzziness of perception” (Newsom et al., 1989, p. 364).
Given active audiences, images can’t be “managed” (Hutton et al., 2001), but they can be
influenced by organizational actions and communications, and substantive relationships
developed with others (J. Grunig, 1993). Such actions and communications were found in one
study to be more influential on organizational images than other factors (Williams & Moffitt,
1997). Of course, images are constantly in flux, and different organizational publics may have
different images of an organization or CEO.
CEO representations in media coverage may include particular dimensions of images.
These dimensions are signaled in press coverage in different ways, though they are perhaps most
apparent when CEO attributes, e.g., education, experience, or personality (J. Grunig, 1993);
CEO behavioral indicators (Fombrun, 1996); or evaluative statements about CEOs are present in
news stories. The absence or presence of such dimensions does not reveal what images publics
may subsequently formulate of CEOs, but it does tell us something about how CEOs are
presented or portrayed in press coverage.


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