Authors, Title and Publication

Men, L. R. (2015). The Internal Communication Role of the Chief Executive Officer: Communication Channels, Styles, and Effectiveness. Public Relations Review, 41, 461-471.

This article reports a study that primarily investigated the role of CEOs in organizational internal communication. Executive leaders, particularly CEOs, play a unique organizational role. As the top leader of the organization, the CEO influences organizational direction, relations with key stakeholders, corporate reputation, and organizational effectiveness by establishing a collective purpose, communicating a vision, and managing the culture. CEOs likewise directly influence employee perceptions, attitudes, and performance through leadership and power. This study aims to examine the channels that CEOs use to communicate with employees, their communication styles, as well as the effects of such styles on perceived CEO communication quality and employee relational outcomes.

Through an online survey with 545 employees who work for a variety of medium-sized and large corporations in the US, results showed that CEOs most frequently use email and face-to-face channels to communicate with employees. Other electronic platforms (i.e., intranet, teleconference, streamline video/audio) and social media tools (i.e., blogs and social networking sites) have become increasingly popular among CEOs. The social media presence of CEOs positively and strongly correlates with their communication responsiveness and quality, as well as employee–organization relational outcomes. The responsive communication style of CEOs, which is described as being warm, friendly, sincere, understanding, compassionate, listening, and interested, positively influences the perceived quality of CEO communication and employee relational outcomes. The assertive communication style of CEOs, which is described as being aggressive, competitive, dominant, and assertive, demonstrates a small significant positive effect on the quality of employee–organization relationships but nonsignificant effect on the quality of CEO communication.

Implications for Practice

Organizations should 1) provide necessary CEO communication training on what (i.e., the content), how (i.e., the channels), and when (i.e., the timing) CEOs should communicate with employees; 2) encourage CEOs to communicate in a responsive, warm, friendly, empathetic, sincere, caring, and interested manner to demonstrate their concern for their employees, openness, and willingness to listen; and 3) equip CEOs with a wide array of communication tools, ranging from traditional tools, such as face-to-face channels, print publications, email, and phones, to new technological tools, such as blogs, intranet, social networking sites, instant messaging systems, and video-/teleconferences.

Location of Article

The article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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