Jonathan Schwartz , CEO of Sun Microsystems and avid blogger
Calling all Chairpersons, CEOs and Managing Directors! We’d love to read what you think so start blogging now.
Wait a minute, I hear you say. Why on Earth should the head honchos of organisations open themselves up to public scrutiny and ridicule by blogging?
Let me explain what I think here.
As a corporate publicist, I have been involved in profiling both my organisations and their CEOs for the longest time. People are always interested to read about and hear from the top dogs.
This includes the usual corporate information like their vision, key thrusts, 5-year plans, ideas to revolutionise the industry, and management style, to more personal and intimate details – their favourite local dish, weekend hobbies, or reading material.
As industry or public leaders, bosses exert inordinate amounts of influence on the future destinies of their organisations and stakeholders. This can be as macro as a country’s destiny, or as micro as a product’s bottom-line.
Increasingly, at least in the Western world, more and more corporate chieftains are blogging.
Prime examples are Bob Lutz of General Motors, Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban, and Sun Microsystem’s Jonathan Schwartz. More recently, Vice President of CSR in McDonald’s Bob Langert has jumped into the fray, and so has Bill Marriott of Marriott Hotels.
I hardly hear of any senior management bloggers out there, though I am quite sure Mr Wang isn’t just a junior flyboy. Most tend to be consultants or trainers, with the occasional tech-related entrepreneurs.
There are a couple of politicians who blog though – Foreign Minister George Yeo (who blogs at Ephraim Loy’s blog as well as Beyond SG), and the P65 MPs. More recently is lawyer turned Nominated MP Siew Kum Hong who attracted fans with his candid and transparent approach towards politics.
I wish more captains of industry would blog though. Here are the reasons why.
Blogging helps to demystify what your corporate culture is all about. It makes you more directly accessible to your various publics while drawing them closer to you.
Many of your customers would also be keen to hear what goes on behind the scenes, and be involved – if not in helping to create the next product then at least in voicing their wishes, inputs and feedback.
Blogging head honchos can also connect more directly to their employees. Your colleagues would certainly be interested to know your thoughts on various matters so that they know how they can better work with you.
Indeed, blogs are more informal and friendly than your regular staff conference or corporate newsletter.
Another benefit I see in blogging is what it does to your personal and corporate brand.
Blogs provide an added dimension to one’s brand identity and positioning. It tells people what you and your organisation’s values are, and helps to shape public perception in a more direct, conversational manner with a figure that they can identify with and trust.
Blogs help to humanise CEOs and senior managers. Too often, the public has a nagging perception that senior corporate guys live in ivory towers and are totally out of touch with their constituents.
By blogging, you can reduce the distance between yourself and the guy next door. Doing so forces you to write in the informal human language favoured by the online community, and allows you to express your frank and candid opinions more easily.
The flip side however is that blogging may take off some of the sheen that corporate communications has bestowed on head honchos for the longest time.
Being believable and trusted, however, may be far more important than all the accolades and awards that one can muster. Especially in this day and age where transparency and honesty are valued.
PS – This post resulted from a series of email exchanges between Ivan Chew, Kevin Lim and a couple of other media socialists. The basic idea is whether it makes sense for people in positions of authority to blog, and if so, what benefits or drawbacks do they bring.