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Written by Suzanne Bates
There are CEOs who are immersed in blogging and they love it. Blogs are tools they use to reach their markets and extend their brands. Today you can start a conversation, show thought leadership, and stand out quickly with a good strategy and rich content in a forum that you control.
But among many who grew up B.I. (Before Internet), blogging seems like a chore. Most are baffled by it. They can’t imagine keeping a “diary,” online, yet they also feel a little concerned they are going to be left behind.
Why CEOs Don’t Blog
The reluctance to go “social” is driven by concerns about guidance, misguidance, or releasing sensitive information inadvertently. There’s a general feeling that it simply isn’t necessary and could even be harmful. Not only that, but CEOs of all size companies are busy people. So what’s the best use of your time?
At the same time, there is a legitimate reason to think that eventually CEOs will start using social media and networking. It may be the future of reputation management tools. CEOs in general have had a tough time in the media, battling negative press about salaries, bonuses, and business practices. A blog, well done, is a great tool to build goodwill and counter negative PR.
The one thing to remember again is the conversation going on. People are talking about you. In the context of brand management, you want to be in on the conversation.
What will people find when they Google you? Articles? Op-Eds? Videos from your interviews? Speeches on YouTube? Someone in your company must be in charge of managing your public profile in the “social” world. Someone needs to infuse it with positive news and monitor negative press. If you’re smart, you’re already thinking about the best way to communicate in the online world
How CEOs are Using Blogs Now
CEOs are blogging for different reasons that are unique to them and that support their brands in many different ways. Here’s a brief look at a few and what they are all about.
- Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, posts once a week, often sports rants about what’s wrong with college football. Sometimes he tackles more esoteric business topics, such as what’s wrong with Fed monetary policy. And he’s not afraid of weighing in on less serious topics, like why he thinks Bristol Palin could win “Dancing with the Stars.”
- Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is often mentioned on the topic of leader blog lists. Zappos is the company that made shoe buying on the Internet easy. After Amazon acquired Zappos, Hsieh kept blogging for Zappos, mainly about goings-on at the company. The blog posts were well-written pieces that gave outsiders the feeling they were peeking in on the inside.
- Dell CEO Michael Dell uses his blog to start two-way conversations. That’s worth noting because he has leveraged blogs as a customer relationship tool. Blogs are not a one-way street. You get feedback, and you can use it to gather incredibly valuable information about how people see your company.
How to Start Writing
If you’re unsure where to begin, one strategy you can employ is “writing out loud.”
Turn on a tape recorder, have someone ask you questions and just talk. Have them transcribe and edit what you’ve said. Readers have a sixth sense about whether a leader’s blog is really coming from them. This is a way to ensure it does.
As to how often to blog, you need to be regular or you won’t gain a following. You have to do what is realistic for your schedule. Think about making a post once a week, or twice a month. Set up a system for capturing your ideas quickly, and if you can, have someone on your team handle the actual posting if it is not convenient for you.
Is now the right time?
Now is the right time! Perhaps you’d like to use your blog as a research tool. Perhaps you want to establish thought leadership in an area. Perhaps you’ve always enjoyed writing and see it as an outlet. Most CEOs will need someone to help them. Even if you’re in a small company, set up a system for developing your blog ideas, for editing, for posting, unless you want to do any or all of that yourself.
Be sure you have someone monitoring comments as well. Blogs are still a new medium, so don’t be afraid to experiment with what works for you! Yes, now is the time!
Suzanne Bates is author of a new book just released this month “Discover Your CEO Brand: Secrets to Embracing and Maximizing Your Unique Brand as a Leader” from McGraw-Hill. CEO of Bates Communications, a firm that transforms leaders into powerful communicators who get results, she is also author of www.thepowerspeakerblog.com and two other books from McGraw-Hill: “Speak Like a CEO” and “Motivate Like a CEO.” Visit Suzanne's website: www.bates-communications.com