There’s plenty on the TLP site about better corporate and CEO blogging. But there’s also huge amounts of fantastic wisdom out there on the internet. So on this page, I’ve collected some of our favourite resources on CEO blogging:
CEO blogging – Specific resources
This is a great in-depth piece from Chief Executive, covering the benefits of CEO blogging (with a focus on communications and employee engagement).
Includes some interesting CEO blog case studies – such as Royal Caribbean International’s CEO Adam Goldstein using his blog as a crisis management tool after a particularly devastating earthquake in Haiti. Also includes case study of Tom Glocer, CEO of Thomson Reuters, using a blog as a tool to learn more about social media.
Some great quotes from the article:
- “Glocer doesn’t believe every CEO is cut out to have a personal blog. He suggests CEOs ask themselves if they are comfortable writing their own staff announcements, news releases, etc. “If you find the act of writing short messages a burden, then you probably shouldn’t take on a blog because it will be painfully obvious to everyone that you’re not having fun.”
- “Sue Allon, CEO of Allonhill, a Denver-based provider of credit risk management services, started her blog to help establish her company’s reputation as a trusted independent party in the area of mortgage securitization due diligence. With her own name so identified with the company, building trust and a close association between the company and her personal brand became the strategic goal of her blog.”
Takeaway: A valuable article, with great case studies on CEOs seeing the rewards from sustained CEO blogging.
A great piece from way back in 2004. Seth Godin argues that all blogs need Candor, Urgency, Timeliness, Pithiness and Controversy. Godin makes the case that unless your blog can consistently deliver on four out of the five success factors, you’ll struggle to hold readers (regardless of your title as CEO).
This article highlights the blogging challenge that many CEOs struggle with: your blog must be entertaining above all else.
Takeaway: a valuable piece that should inform all CEO blog strategy. It simply doesn’t matter how senior and recognised you are. If you fail to be entertaining, you will fail.
Andy Markin argues that blogging provides management“what they need in today’s world – a fast, effective and economic means of carrying out two-way communications with a firm’s many audiences. Blogs also represent a long-term commitment to reaching out to educate, inform, influence and obtain inputs/feedback directly from your market.”
The article also presents some data on the the risks and considerations that managers need to think about when starting blogging.
Takeaway: A well considered argument for CEO blogging with a practical case study from Dell – even if a little dated.
Possibly the most comprehensive coverage of the possible challenges of CEO blogging. Jeremiah Owyang covers the many reasons that CEO blogging can often fail:
- Legal scruititny
- Not authentic
- See I’m cool too
- The party line / rogue blogger
- Should be doing other things
- Long term commitment
Takeaway: A realistic view of many of the challenges that you’re likely to face when you start a CEO blog.
A filmed debate between David Amerland and David Gingell on whether all CEOs should blog.
- David Amerland argues that it’s part of the job description for the modern CEO to blog. The argument is that CEOs now need to be more than technically excellent. They’re also a public face for the company. And social media and blogging can help to meet customers where they are. Whilst there is a skills gap, CEOs can learn and succeed with support.
- David Gingell argues that it’s not a done deal that all CEOs should blog. There’s substantial risks in blogging (when it’s not done well). Whilst for many organisations it does make sense to blog, CEOs also need to be focused on leading the organisation from the front.
Takeaway: An in-depth discussion of the pros and cons (but be prepared to set aside 40 minutes to watch the full debate)
David Gingell (Marketing Director at NetApp, see debate above). A great perspective from the marketing chair. Most of his article focuses on the challenge of authenticity: “if a CEO is going to blog externally then he or she must be authentic. Therefore in theory they should be writing their own posts. And this is where it gets difficult. I would rather my CEO was keeping the company’s strategic intent within the C-Suite or at least within the company, and definitely not sharing it or elements of it, with the public.”
Takeaway: A well structured perspective with good examples (but remember Gingell is setting up for the negative side of the debate above – where he discusses his views with more nuance).
Forbes – CEOs Who Blog: How To Be Your Company’s Public Face
Note that this is a link to the Internet Archive as the original site is no longer online
David Amerland (see above, also part of the debate) provides five guidelines for CEOs who are looking to enter the world of social media. The five guidelines are very practical, and well worth browsing:
1. Get On Board, And Get Help – “Don’t ignore it because you don’t understand it, and don’t outsource it to people that understand it only slightly more.”
2. Be personal – Amerland cites the example of Reed Hastings’ (Netflix CEO) Facebook wall as a communications channel
3. Be innovative – Enterprises almost never innovate with communications… “mostly because of fear that things would go wrong.”
4. Create a framework – Another way of saying have boundaries for everyone, about what you will and won’t comment on
5. Be authentic – “While it’s important to get expert help if you don’t live and breathe social media, it’s equally important not to hide behind a ghostwritten stream of banalities.”
Takeaway: Valuable advice that’s quick to read (less than 5 mins). Heavily geared towards the practical side of getting started with CEO blogging or social media. A great resource to help you ask the right questions.
Peter Aceto, CEO of Tangerine Bank makes the argument that the issue isn’t about social media – it’s about the macro shift to greater transparency.
As he says: “This is about finding a better way to lead, to govern, and to do business. It’s about transparency. Let’s face it: People are talking about your business anyway. So why not take part in the conversation?”
Takeaway: There’s not much new in this article, but it does contain some good supporting data and is written by an active CEO blogger, which makes it worth a quick scan.
The most current (2015) source of data on the participation of CEOs in social media. Cited research shows that “80% of the chief executive officers of the world’s largest 50 companies are engaged online and on social media.”
The article also includes five great general purpose tips:
- “Listen closely. For those CEOs still hesitant to embrace social media, listening and watching should be the first step.”
- “Choose platforms wisely. For those hesitant to throw themselves out there online, find the right social vehicle.”
- “Embrace a “media company mindset.”
- “Develop a thick skin.”
- “DIY. Do it yourself… it is always be to be editor-in-chief”
Takeaway: A must read article to help you build a business case, and get started. Well written, and packed with data and practical tips.
In this 2012 article, David K. Williams and Mary Michelle Scott cite some great data on the changing perceptions of social media by CEOs. Comparing to the HBR article above, it’s clear evidence of just how fast things are moving. Two great quotes about the 2012 market:
- “The new report from CEO.com and business intelligence firm DOMO
notes that social media is more pervasive than ever among consumers: 50% of the population currently uses Facebook, and more than 37% use Twitter. Yet among Fortune 500 CEOs, the report says, only 7.6% are present on Facebook, only 4% use Twitter, and less than 1% use Google Plus.”
- “Consider one more piece of recent research: The BRANDFog 2012 CEO Survey says more than 82% of respondents are likely or much more likely to trust a company whose CEO and team engage in social media. The study also reports that 77% of respondents are likely or much more willing to buy from a company whose mission and values are defined through their leaderships’ involvement in social media.”
Takeaway: A great source of data to help understand just how fast things have changed
A well thought out and written opinion piece from Ashkan Karbasfrooshan. The argument is that CEOs should do what comes naturally. To quote:
“Some entrepreneurs are technologists, others are salespeople, a few are storytellers. The best coders don’t stop coding even if they run the company. The best cooks never stop cooking even when they open their restaurant….Similarly, a storyteller doesn’t put the pen down because he’s in pursuit of profit, too.”
The article also includes seven good reasons for CEOs to consider blogging (some of the reasons are more compelling than others):
- “In a world where others’ perception of you is a function of a Google query, you need to own your online presence”
- “Press releases are ineffective and generally viewed as noise”
- Spending time blogging stops you from micromanaging staff
- “Blogging will be the best lead generator you can imagine”
- “CEOs field the same questions and repeat answers to multiple stakeholders all the time”
- “The best part of writing so much is that when you meet people, there’s a good chance they’ve read your work, so you can shut up and listen”
- “To publish, you not only need to research your topic, but you need to distill a lot of information into a coherent and cohesive argument or summary.”
Takeaway: Interesting perspectives, that are worth considering. Generally more geared to smaller technology businesses than the enterprise.
A great in-depth piece by Cindy Kim that features strong opinions, examples and an in-depth interview with Guy Kawasaki. Some interesting quotes pulled out below (but definitely worth jumping into this article in depth):
- “People aren’t interested in coming to your blog to read more about your company and your products, they want to learn and gain insight into your expertise and knowledge about what’s going on in the industry and how it will be impacted.”
- “The best case is that the CEO’s blog is mildly interesting. The worst case is that the CEO’s blog is deadly boring. The worst case is much more likely.”
- “If blogging killed your brand, you had a pretty weak brand already, and it probably deserved to die.”
Takeaway: There’s a lot of well thought out content and opinions here. Well worth a read (but remember the piece is now nearly seven years old).
The best quote here is “In a world where social media is revolutionizing the way we communicate, connect, and collaboate, more people are begging the question: “Should CEOs blog?” The better question would be: “Can your CEO blog well?”
This piece also contains an interview with Chris Hewitt, who argues strongly that “CEOs should most definitely share their voice through blogs. However, where to blog is the real question for me; I believe that CEOs should strictly create internal blogs for employees of their companies and not blog for the general public.”
Takeaway: A great followup piece from Kim, again well worth the read.
A session at the 2008 Milken conference featuring some big names in:
- David Meerman Scott, Viral Marketing Strategist
- Hope Boonshaft, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Hill & Knowlton
- Jason Calacanis, Founder and CEO, Mahalo.com
- Steven Rubenstein, President, Rubenstein Communications Inc.
Whilst there’s no video available, the session writeup makes for interesting reading about the past, present and future of PR:
- The panel discussed the need for CEOs to learn to blog, use new social networking tools and learn how to facilitate public conversations. CEOs should be in the trenches, not hiding behind their desks. “You’ve got to get in the game!” Boonshaft urged.
- Scott concluded the session by asking the panelists: “If you were sitting with the ‘Governator’ and he asked you for the most important keys to blogging, what would you tell him?” The answers included creating an organic dialogue, honesty, creating a platform for information exchange, transparency, respect … and a little bit of pizzazz.
Takeaway: Some interesting perspectives, but a relatively short writeup (it’s a shame there’s no video).
Andy Crestodina touches on the many natural advantages the CEO brings to the table when blogging. Two worth mentioning are:
- Leverage your title to get access:“You have an unfair PR advantage: your CEO title. Because of this title no one in your company will have an easier time getting press than you. You can use this title to get interviews and press mentions.”
- Delegate completion of content:“You’re busy. As CEO, your time is one of the most precious assets within your business. But you’re a manager, so know one knows better than you how to leverage the support of your team.”
Takeaway: Simple and practical tips, many of which are common sense.
More general resources on corporate blogging:
In addition to these CEO blog resources, there’s also plenty written on corporate blogging. These are some of the best resources that you’ll get value from: