Susan Solomon, Executive Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Memorial Health Services, a five-hospital health system in Southern California, and a marketing-communications professor at UC Irvine, Cal State Fullerton & UCLA, published this morning a compelling piece on why CEOs should start a blog. She also provides some excellent tips on blogging, whether a CEO or not.
Soloman draws a clear distinction between amateur journal blogs and new-school thinking where journalists and reporters are sourcing Google and sophisticated blogs. Soloman makes a compelling case why blogs both have a place in the corporation and are good for business. Here’s some highlights from her article.
Why a CEO blog?
- The concept of transparency and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act set new rules for timely corporate disclosure.
- A good blog tells more of the organization’s story than the traditional media. An even better blog is read by the media as background information for articles or reports.
- Good brands truly reflect the day-to-day operations of an organization. A blog provides a daily (or weekly, if more doable) report of a company’s activities. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate how the brand is regularly “lived out” by the organization’s leaders.
- Internal audiences also want to hear from the top brass. In some organizations, the only instances when employees hear from their chiefs are during the holidays (the cheery “here’s your gift certificate for a turkey” note) and when cutbacks are looming (the dreaded “these are challenging times” letter). A blog lets employees know what’s happening in their organization and helps manage messaging, sometimes usurping the all-powerful grapevine.
- The investment is minimal. CFOs should be thrilled at the relatively nominal expense of starting up a hot marketing project.
Tips for CEO blog
- Get an authentic person to author your blog. This is true bven if you’re a public relations professional and itching to ghostwrite. A blog should come from the real deal?the CEO, a respected researcher, the product developer. Public relations professionals can always offer ideas and feedback.
- Keep writing. A blog is not a one-time thing; it’s a commitment. Your blogging CEO or other influential person in the company must understand that he or she must keep writing, through thick and thin (including when negative feedback is slung their way).
- Write like a human being. There is no room for corporate-speak in a blog. So, ditch the paradigms, quests for excellence and even, yes, “commitment to transparency.”
- Spark new ideas or comment on others’ insights. Blogs address a community of forward thinkers. Be brave and posit new ideas. Or, if you’re not as daring, comment on the latest concepts being discussed in your field. Talk about an article in a journal, a conference attended or even a comment received on your blog.
Large companies serious about blogging
- Microsoft. A company known for secrecy, Microsoft has truly seen the light and now has hundreds over 1,200 bloggers. The blogs primarily focus on the company’s technologies and are usually targeted at software developers.
- Google. Here the head of public relations, David Krane, has a blog called Kraneland.
- Edelman Public Relations. Here’s an example of a CEO offering truly thoughtful entries on his personal blog. Dick Edelman posts his observations on travels to India, his family history and even a musing on how Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address provides today’s marketer with lessons on branding and leadership.
Thanks Susan, great stuff. Look forward to your promised upcoming blog pieces.