CEO-Kommunikation – wie kommuniziert man im Todesfall?

CEO communication – how do you communicate in the event of death?

How to communicate in the event of a CEO’s partner’s loss is always a personal decision that must be made considering the individual circumstances. This applies not only to CEOs but also to anyone who loses a loved one. Due to their position, a CEO naturally enjoys a different level of attention than a private individual.

The death of a life partner is a personal loss that is associated with a great deal of pain and grief. Therefore, a CEO must communicate professionally and with integrity in an emotionally challenging situation.

Success factors: Emotions, empathy and authenticity

It is up to the individual CEO to decide how they want to deal with and communicate such a difficult situation. A distinction must be made here: Do I communicate the painful loss of the partner publicly at all, and if so, then exclusively via my own private social media channel, or do I also share the loss and great pain via the company’s social media channel, as under the corporate brand?

Necessary: If the CEO’s life partner played an essential role in the company, the death must be addressed publicly and via the company platform.

In the case of listed companies, this falls under ad hoc relevance if the deceased was a leading member of management. The publicity issue does not arise in this case. And yet, it is the ‘how’ that matters here.

In the case of ad hoc relevance, however, the CEO should focus exclusively on the loss of the life partner, preferably labelled as a management team member. In the press release, point out who will fulfil this role in the company’ ad interim’ and what will happen next. This avoids unpleasant queries from journalists. If no successor is known at the time of the death, at least announce it within a certain period. Emotions and expressions of grief are appropriate and appear authentic.

If the deceased was not a member of a company’s management team:

Communication via the corporate channel is not appropriate. The public might view it critically if the deceased life partner was not a company management team member or cadre.

This could (not necessarily, but could) be considered unethical by the public and damage public trust in the CEO and the company.

Of course, disclosing the loss of a life partner will generate understanding and empathy for the CEO. Sharing and sympathising with others can be helpful and emotionally supportive at such a difficult time, and nothing is more authentic than doing this as a private person.