By Ethan Lyon, Senior Writer
“Helping Dolphins Fly” is the title of blogpost from CEO of Microsystems, Jonathan Schwartz. Sun Microsystems is not helping dolphins fly of course, it’s a metaphor for their acquisition of My SQL (their logo is a dolphin). Johnathan is one of the leaders in the CEO blogging community and has set an example of the what a CEO blog can be. We will weigh the benefits and downsides of CEO blogging to help determine whether or not you, as a CEO, or your boss should take a plunge into the blogoshere.
Blogging has two main benefits for CEOs: it is a valuable communication tool for employees, suppliers and customers, and it adds a face to the company. Consider GM President and CEO, Fritz Henderson. He uses GM’s FastLane blog to discuss company progress and keep everyone on the same page. But FastLane is not just charged by Henderson. It is a public relations tool to field questions via webchats and post important post events. Or, a blog can be just about the CEO. Craig Newmark, CEO of Craigslist blogs about everything from the Obama administration to finches to the funding of veterans. The blog shows his multi-dimensional character and puts a face to Craig, from Craigslist.
Not every CEO can post every day like Craig Newmark, however. Blogs can require a lot of work. Heading a Fortune 500 company comes with a lot of responsibility and blogging, to be quite frank, is low on the list of priorities for many CEOs. CEOs must balance their time to maximize efficiency and productivity. Time management is essential to effectively steer the company in the right direction. In addition to time, CEOs have to combat SEC and securities laws while generating compelling content. Seth Godin notes, for CEOs to blog, they must embody the following qualities: candor, urgency, timeliness, pithiness and controversy. Godin admits, it’s not worth the time if you’re not going to do it “right.” Doing it “right” can scare CEOs that are worried about disclosure laws. Jonathan Schwartz, mentions the “red tape” CEOs must work around in order to abide by SEC and disclosure regulations in one of his videocasts on his blog.
What it comes down to is priorities and figuring out how to combat the many challenges of blogging. Surely, no CEO would want to have a lawyer review of his / her blog posts, nor would they want to have a blog post tarnish their brand image. However, for those CEOs that would like to enter the blogosphere, here are some quick tips that might keep you on your game, in the game:
- You don’t need to blog every day. Jonathan Schwartz posts about once a month.
- Have an assistant help with the logistics (get the blog up and going, moderate users’ comments and take care of other maintenance issues).
- If you’re short on time, consider microblogging with such web services as Twitter. Alan Meckler, CEO of WebMediaBrands, has a blog that aggregates all of his Twitter updates. It’s short, simple and to the point.
- Worried about the “red tape?” Consider creating an internal blog–where you can create permissions to avoid disclosing information to the “wrong people.” Internal blogs are also useful tools to align the company with the CEOs strategic vision.
At the end of the day, it’s about comfort. The “red tape” excuse is a valid one. Why take the risk, right? But for those who do take the plunge into the blogosphere, the reward often times outweighs the risks.
Image by Ivan Petrov from Stock.Xchng