Church of the Customer Blog« Why don't CEOs blog? | Main | links for 2006-08-01 »
July 31, 2006
Why don't CEOs blog?
He says: “My No. 1 job is to be a communicator. I don’t understand how a CEO would not blog if committed to open communication.”
If CEOs blogged, they would save considerable time on hundreds of weekly emails that ask roughly the same types of questions. That's part of Debbie Weil's thesis in The Corporate Blogging Book. “Why not do it more efficiently?” she writes. “Instead of a one-to-one message, why not a communication from one to many thousands?" She describes the pro's and con's of corporate blogging with plenty o' pointers on how to do it well and not screw up. I read an early copy of the book and it's excellent.
So what do you think: Does Jonathan Schwartz represent the future of Fortune 500 blogging or one of its interesting footnotes?
UPDATE (8/2/06): Whole Foods's CEO John Mackey is now using his neglected blog to announce significant changes in Whole Foods’ policy to address the concerns raised about the company's discontinuation of sourcing products from local farmeers.
Other blogs that reference Why don't CEOs blog?:
» Thoughts on CEOs That Blog and Why They Don't from CustomersAreAlways
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it the job of the CEO to be in touch with what the customers are doing on a daily basis? Yes, I know, in reality many CEO's probably don't have time for stuff like blogging. Blogging - what? [Read More]
» Blogging's ROI from CCUCEO
Here's an ROI from blogging: prominent mention in a prominent article on your expertise. Debbie Weil who writes the BlogWriteforCEOS blog is in the business of convincing businesses, in particular CEO's, to blog. She's mentioned prominently in today's ... [Read More]
I think the future is somewhere in-between, leaning closer to the "interesting footnote" direction.
A CEO has to enjoy writing. This fact eliminates a huge percentage of leaders.
A CEO has to be creative, constantly thinking up new content. A CEO has to have the support of her board of directors --- is time spent blogging better than time spent exploring new markets or new products or acquisitions? A CEO has to protect proprietary company information while still communicating something of value.
As a new generation of employees become Presidents and CEOs, expect there to be more leaders willing to blog.
Another big point is the knowledge that can be picked up that isn't normally in an email conversation between two people. Such as some issues learned that came up in a project that another department is working on.
Great question, Jackie! I think it's more of a footnote for the Fortune 500. We're probably more likely to see corporate blogs from them (marketing, pr, etc.) than CEO blogs.
I tend to agree with Kevin's response. I'd also add that the bigger the company the more it tends to worry about what it has to lose than it is to consider what it has to gain.
"If CEOs blogged, they would save considerable time on hundreds of weekly emails that ask roughly the same types of questions."...
How many Fortune 500 CEOs don't have a staff to answer these e-mails? It's not a time saver if someone else is answering those e-mails. We are talking Fortune 500 here.
I'm going to agree with Kevin and Ann. As a shareholder of a company, I'm not sure I'd want the CEO blogging unless there's a specific reason for it (market uncertainty, lack of brand recognition). There's an opportunity cost to blogging because the CEO could be working on something else, a business problem that he/she is uniquely qualified to solve. Yeah, so his/her blog could get more attention...more good attention or more bad attention.
This is one thing that troubles me about corporate blogging, and those who are vocal/visible in their support of it. It's deemed *good* and yet we don't consider that there are perfectly good reasons not to blog. When someone asks me about whether I think they should blog, my first question is "what business problem are you trying to solve?". If you don't know, then it's just a time-intensive experiment that could go either way. I'd leave those kinds of experiments to the worker bees (like me) and those with significant (brand) issues that can be uniquely solved through blogging. Instead, I see a general "blogging's the answer, now what's the question?" approach.
I actually think that more CEOs would be willing to podcast weekly remarks than to write blog postings.
In the "old days," lots of corporate videos had Q&A segments with CEOs. That type of format would lend itself to podcasting, allowing the CEO to reach employees without having to angst over writing.
Nice post. I think what we're seeing is the Fortune 500's that are facing some challenging times in their markets dipping their toes in out of necessity. Sun fits this category. Even GM's CEO posted to the FastLane blog recently ... I also blogged about that at the link I posted to this comment. Southwest's CEO posted to the Nuts blog ... they're hardly in trouble ... but it was interesting that it was in the context of getting customer feedback and having a discussion about their well-known and unique seating policy.
I think it will be the success (or lack of it) that these executives above have in using the corporate blog and the overall set of conversation and social technologies made available in Web 2.0 to turn their companies around (or just continue to make them better in Southwest's case) leveraging their customer that will dicate the future adoption by the other Fortune 500's.
I'm betting that we will know a day where Fortune 500 CEOs conversing over the internet with their customers will be de facto behavior. The pace at which this change happens is unknowable.
-- brian, writing from the Listening Post
I think the real issue is perception. Many organizations are still hampered by Victorian prejudices, such as segregating executive from administrative tasks. An executive directs people, clerks use typewriters/keyboards/pencils. Most organizations would question the $6/hour time spent on a keyboard for a CEO that wants to blog.
Plus there is the legal review aspect. Most large companies are ruled by legal repercussions of any communication, so they leave PR and marketing the tasks of keeping current with what can be said. Most executives would need 'clerical' level training to meet this organizational expectation.
Then there is the matter of metrics and evaluation. CEO's and boards of directors are accustomed to detailing the accomplishments of the CEO. How is the CEO used to reporting division balance sheets and programs proposed, implemented, and evaluated, going to now include what the blog accomplishes? Both CEO and Board of Directors are likely to still consider keyboard time as clerical effort, and way off the pay scale and perceptions of useful budgeting of time.
Any organization should be half way to recognizing how they can benefit from various Internet projects and information venues, but that is a far cry from permitting/expecting executives to do secratary stuff. It will probably be another generation or two before we get CEO's that have the skills and aptitude for blogging, and can achieve an organizational support for the CEO to blog about the company.
Ponca City, OK