Blogging has become far more than just a popular means of communicating. Blogs have become an important aspect of business and one of the most effective methods of shaping popular opinion.
Many people look to blogs for information, entertainment, and even education on a daily basis. So it is not surprising that most people expect almost all public figures, including chief executive officers, to have some sort of blog for expressing their thoughts.
A CEO who wants to influence opinion and build up his or her brand is going to need an intelligent, informative, entertaining, and well-written blog. A successful blog can drive sales, improve a company’s image, and transform an obscure executive into an influential and well-respected industry leader.
1. The most important reason why a CEO needs a blog is…
…to create and maintain a communications channel with the news media, customers, suppliers, employees, and the general public. In today’s world, people expect all public figures to maintain some form of an online presence. If you doubt this, then check out this infographic to see a list of CEOs who have the most influence on social media.
Reporters might turn to the blog for basic information about the CEO when writing a story on the industry or the company. A busy journalist that is trying to meet a deadline might not have time to call for some quoted material, but they can quickly cut and paste material from the CEO’s blog into a story.
This means a well-written blog post full of good information can create a great deal of valuable free publicity for a company. One single blog entry on a critical issue can get the CEO or the company’s name in dozens of news stories and possibly in hundreds of publications or websites if the story is republished (or hits social media).
All the CEO had to do to get this avalanche of free publicity was to take the time and effort to create a few good blog entries! This is what makes blogging one of the most cost effective public relations tools available. If done right, an executive can establish themselves as a recognised public figure and an industry leader without talking to a single reporter.
Massive media exposure is just one way in which a professionally managed CEO blog can help build up a company’s brand. The key goal here is to establish the chief executive’s reputation as an authority in the industry.
Consumers respect experts. A person will hire the most experienced mechanic in town to work on their car or the most knowledgeable plumber to fix their leaky pipes. A great book on this subject is Robert Cialdini’s Influence. Every CEO who wants to understand the psychology of persuasion should have this book on their bookshelf.
Cialdini’s studies show that people will be much more likely to do business with a company headed by a CEO that is an acknowledged expert in the field. A blog filled to the brim with valuable information and insight about the industry is one of the quickest and cheapest methods of establishing an executive’s reputation as an expert.
Now potential customers will see and feel that the CEO and, by inference, everybody else who works at the firm is an expert in the field. For example, a supplier of mining equipment can gain additional credibility by having the CEO blog on future trends in mining.
This could include anything from the effect of the price of ore on the business’s future, to new developments in mining technology. B2B customers will now have a compelling reason to buy from the company because the CEO is guiding them to what’s really important in industry news.
It could be as simple as sharing a Google Trends graph:
A key point to keep in mind – when a chief executive’s profile is raised, the company’s profile is also raised. Companies with CEOs that are viewed as experts perform better in a range of areas, from investor awareness to major alliances. In short – a properly written and well-positioned blog can significantly raise the profile of both the chief executive officer and the company.
3. Increasing your knowledge and expertise
One danger that many executives face is becoming so narrowly focused on their business’s day-to-day operations that they ignore long-term macro trends and developments.
In light of this danger, an unexpected advantage to blogging (that is often overlooked) is the way it can force big picture thinking. Writing blog entries gives a CEO an opportunity to pause and think on topics such as industry trends, competitors, economic conditions, and technology.
Not only can a blog help an executive hone his or her writing skills, but it can also help improve other important skillsets, such as planning and critical thinking. Furthermore, a blog can be a good place to outline plans, test launch ideas, and then get a quick reaction to those ideas and plans before full implementation.
Finally, a CEO that is a competent manager but a poor communicator can use a blog to improve his or her communication skills. Blogging is a simple and cost-effective means of practicing and improving a variety of communication skills, including presentation and storytelling. An executive without good communication skills is operating with a serious handicap.
4. Strengthening corporate culture
Building a strong corporate culture is hard. The old methods, like posting mission statements next to the water filter are out-dated and ineffective. By taking advantage of blogging, a CEO has a powerful tool to demonstrate what the company really values.
A blog gives the CEO a platform to communicate their vision, values, strategy, and long-term plans to the entire company. A leader that is an effective communicator can use a blog to guide all employees, showing them how they fit into a new plan or strategy.
Focusing on fundamental values such as honesty and integrity is another way that a CEO can shape corporate culture. An example of this might be to outline business practices the company refuses to engage in, and to explain why. Another example might be to highlight a specific instance unethical behaviour and how it can hurt an organisation. A CEO who wants to demonstrate his or her organisation’s creativity could post about new research and development for example.
Another major benefit to utilising tools like blogging and social media is to establish transparency. Most customers in today’s world expect companies to be open and honest about most of their activities. Yet establishing such transparency can be hard because of the public’s limited knowledge about what happens inside the business.
An honest and easy-to-read CEO blog can demonstrate this transparency by establishing an honest picture of the company’s activities. More importantly, the blog should be a window that lets potential customers experience the corporate culture. Now the blog itself will become part of the corporate culture and help promote the organisation.
5. Humanising the company
One of the biggest complaints that many consumers have about modern companies is that they are distant and inhuman. Customers really want to know that there is a person interested in meeting their needs somewhere in the organisation, even if they never actually interact with that person!
Unfortunately, demonstrating a company’s humanity can be difficult in today’s world of eCommerce and long-distance business transactions. However, an effective CEO blog can help bridge that gap by showing that there is a caring person in charge of the organisation.
Quick sidenote: the power of the empathy felt by consumers to the CEO increases drastically if the CEO maintains a video blog.
But back to written blogs – the blog must read as if it is written by an actual person, preferably one that knows a great deal about the business. It must also contain some touches of humanity, such as humour and real opinions.
Therefore, an effective blog should have descriptions of work outings, charitable activities, and possibly even information about the CEO’s personal life thrown in. Mentioning which football team the boss supports or what his favourite meal is can help potential customers relate to the CEO.
Showing that you care is also an important aspect of transparency because sometimes customers will think that an executive who is totally absent from the public is hiding something. A little touch of humanity can help demolish the image of secrecy that many corporate leaders accidently project these days.
6. Conveying your passion
All great business leaders have two things in common: they are very passionate about their work, and they know how to convey that passion to others. Much of Steve Jobs’ success came from his passion about technology and design and his willingness to share that passion with the world.
Luckily, a blog is the perfect tool for conveying passion to the world. An auto company CEO that blogs about how much he loves to drive is telling the world that he loves cars. By demonstrating that passion, he tells the world that he is committed to making them better, faster and more enjoyable for his customers.
Creating the impression that the CEO is obsessed with the business is also one of the best ways of establishing expertise. For example, an investment company that is headed by somebody who is recognised as a stock-market geek will gain far more credibility than one led by a person who never talks about stocks. One word of advice – the obsession must be about the business, not an obsession with time on the golf course.
The worst image that a business can convey to customers and the public is the impression that its’ executives do not care about the products, the industry, or, by implication, the customers.
7. Making business fun
Blogging can be a very enjoyable and satisfying activity in itself, but it can also broadcast that delightful sense of fun to the world. This can correct one of the worst impressions that many executives inadvertently project into the world: the sense that they are completely transactional. No one wants to do business with a cold, sombre ‘Mr. Burns’ type of CEO.
When that impression is broadcast, customers will ask, “Why is that CEO so unhappy?”, and form a negative impression of the company, even if on a sub-conscious level. To make matters worse, they will usually conclude that the CEO is unhappy because the business is underperforming.
An organisation can counter this highly destructive impression by showing the world that the company is fun and vibrant through well-written, fun and conversational blog articles. A CEO blog can be a useful way of communicating this sense of fun to the world by showing everybody that the boss is having fun.
Showing the world that the CEO is a fun-loving human being who enjoys his work proves to the world that the entire company is both passionate and happy. This can project an image of a fun brand and a company that people want to do business with.
In summary: The power of the CEO blog
Taking the time and effort to create an effective and professional blog can broadcast a CEO’s passion, expertise, knowledge, abilities, and commitment to the world.
A blog is a reflection on both the company and the CEO. Therefore, a successful blog can be an asset that will attract both publicity and sales. But a poorly managed (or absent) blog will drive away customers and make the organisation look sloppy.
If loved this article and you’re ready to get started with CEO blogging, you might like our article featuring 3 detailed steps to get started with a CEO blog