In Vital Speeches’ crosshairs this week: CEO blogs

Last week in this space I called for the end of the traditional post-speech Q&A, before modifying my position just a bit.

This week, I’m pulling the plug on the CEO’s blog. The good news is, if you’re a CEO who already has a blog (or a speechwriter who writes it) you’re grandfathered in. (Unless you’re looking for an excuse to kill the thing, in which case, look no further.)

It’s future CEO bloggers who I’m trying to spare the drudgery and failure of the executive’s b.l.o.g., which is a backwards acronym for “Goddamn Onerous Lackluster Bore.” (To write, and to read.)

What pushed me over the edge so far that I pulled the CEO blog with me? This gallant attempt, by Cisco Systems’ communication strategist Ayelet Baron to help a CEO client who “blogs but feels that he does not blog enough and finds it to be cumbersome at times.”

(Cumbersome, in the way a daily columnist would find running a corporation in his spare time.)

“After asking him a few questions,” Baron blogs, “I realized that he is used to white papers and takes a similar approach to blogging. My advice was to think about it as writing an e-mail, which is where he spends a lot of his time, and take a topic he is passionate about and write 2-3 paragraphs … and then he would have a blog post and more of them.”

She goes on. I won’t bother.

Look, everybody: The CEO can’t blast out half-polished paragraphs whenever he feels passionate about something (“hey everybody, let’s shitcan the printing division!”), and then wait for the wisdom of the crowd to set him straight.

The CEO thinks in terms of white papers because his or her thoughts are taken that way by employees (and by customers and the press and the analysts).

The best bloggers are willing to be intentionally provocative, to look dumb sometimes, to share outbursts, to let their readers see everything, over the long haul, and make up their mind based on the collective wisdom of hundreds of ideas expressed over a period of years.

The best CEOs really don’t do any of that. Or if they do, they do it behind closed doors.

But the CEO is the person the whole institution and all its stakeholders look to, and what they are looking for is consistency, sanity, thoughtfulness and even-tempered guidance.

He or she ought to have great and multiple channels to use when there is something important to say. But hoping for compelling copy from the corner office every day or every week or even every month—in most cases, it’s just silly.

Somebody tell me I’m wrong about this. —DM

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