Saturday, 31 March 2012

Keystrokes from the CEO

It has become more commonplace for CEOs and organizational leaders to have a blog. The intent is often to personalize the leader so that he or she is less of a figurehead and more approachable. It is hard to deny that peeks behind the curtain are interesting. 

However, while a leader's blog can certainly enhance the transparency of an organization, it does beg the question -  should all CEOs have a blog? According to David Henderson, a former journalist and communications strategist, there are a few basic questions that PR professionals need to consider before automatically throwing a CEO blog into their convergent media mix: 
- Why have the CEO blog? 
- What's the purpose? 
- What's to be achieved by the CEO's blog?

The best blogs are those that are not ghost-written by a member of the PR team, but rather come straight from the heart of the executive. Advice, lessons learned, personal anecdotes mixed with well-researched theories make for good reads, but they also need to have a tone that doesn't feel patronizing or phoney. One example of a particularly fearless CEO blog is Mark Cuban's Blog Maverick. While he does stir up debate and controversy, he is also unapologetically being himself.  

Another example of a well-done CEO blog is Paul Levy's. Levy was the CEO of Beth Israel Hospital in Boston and for years he wrote "Running a Hospital" about his experiences and learnings in healthcare. While he is no longer the CEO, he still maintains his blog (now called "Not Running a Hospital") and adds his perspective on healthcare in the United States. Levy is particularly good at interspersing more serious posts with his day-to-day experiences and humour. 

Successful CEO blogs really come down to the personality and commitment of the CEO. If they have to be led kicking and screaming to the computer, it is going to be a painful experience for everyone. There needs to be trust on the part of the PR team to allow the CEO to speak with his or her own voice.

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