ceo’s as bloggers

6 11 2005

michelle asks if a blog might be a good vehicle for her ceo.  it’s a great question, so i thought i’d post my response.

i’ve not had direct experience with a ceo blogger, but i’ve heard of very successful blogs by executives and big flops too.  there are several things to take into consideration.

my advice is to judge whether or not your ceo is really a blog kinda guy.  blogs are very informal and blog readers expect an authentic voice from bloggers.  if your ceo  prefers the company’s employees to refer to him by his first name and truly enjoys interacting with them,  it might work.  but if he’s very formal and is expecting someone in pr to write the blog and just tack on his name and signature, forget about it.  find another vehicle.  more damage will be done in the long run once it’s revealed he isn’t the author.

another consideration is time.  blogs are very immediate and to be successful, a blogger should be posting several times a week minimum.  ceo’s are very busy.  will he be willing to dedicate the time and effort to post regularly?  add on responding to questions raised in by employees in comments and you have a potential time sink for a person who has little time to spare.

finally, blogs are known for their outright honesty.  corporate blogs who have tried to "craft the message" have been found out and the product and/or company have suffered backlash from the marketplace.  you

might want to run some tough questions by your ceo to determine what he
might do if an employee were to raise them in a blog.  questions like:

  • i heard there are rumors that we are about to be bought by our
    major competitor.  who’s going to loose their jobs when this happens?
    [just to make it tougher, assume it’s true.]
  • why are we using materials manufactured in country x  when you
    recently announced our commitment to human rights.  [country x is
    listed as in violation of human rights accords by several NGO’s]
  • my boss’s manager has me assigning expenses to accounts that I
    don’t think are right.  what do I do? [a case of taking advantage of
    the access to the ceo that they’ve never had before.]

answering tough questions asked at a tough time can be problematic, but
not answering them would destroy any credibility the ceo has developed
previously.

if you decide that blogging isn’t necessarily the right venue for your
ceo, there are still other technologies that you can  explore.    how
about a journal talking about his travels, the business, the people he
meets.  or an "ask the ceo" column in which the questions asked are
only shown when they are answered.  or what about a podcast channel for
him to deliver "desk side chats."  these afford the same capability for
reaching your employees, but are less time intensive and a bit less
volatile.

it’s great that you have a ceo who wants to communicate.  just be sure
to match the technology with both the content he hopes to deliver and
his personality and work style.  good luck!


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