Getting your CEO a positive, almost glowing piece in The New York Times—on the front page of the business section, above the fold no less—is a goal of just about every corporate communicator. It could be the Holy Grail of earned media efforts.
On Tuesday, Yahoo accomplished just that. The company's relatively new chief executive Marissa Mayer was feted in what could have been a basic earnings announcement story, but instead read like a CEO bio on a company's website--or better.
Check out the lead graph: "Marissa Mayer, just by being Marissa Mayer, has done more to move Yahoo forward in her first six months as chief executive than any of her five predecessors did over as many years."
The article went on to describe Mayer as "an accomplished engineer and executive" who has markedly improved employee morale and the company's search business.
It helps that Mayer was a celebrated Silicon Valley executive at Google before she jumped in July 2012 to the struggling Yahoo, which had burned through four CEOs in five years. Then Mayer gained more admiration when she became one of the few Fortune 500 CEOs to have a baby during her tenure. She did, however, rile up some mothers by saying "The baby's been way easier than everyone made it out to be" as she was honored as one of Fortune's Most Powerful Women.
For the most part though, Yahoo communicators have positioned Mayer just right: hip, smart, family oriented and up for the challenge of resurrecting Yahoo from the dead.
There's just one catch. While Yahoo's revenue increased for the first time in four years, the company continues to struggle with display-ad revenue. If that slide continues, despite her best efforts the honeymoon will be over for Mayer sooner rather than later.
In a public company, particularly one that's headquartered in Silicon Valley, there's only so much a stellar image can do.
Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01