News You Can Use

From the archives of The Influential Executive, 10/2008

At the very least, 5,000 top executives see the benefits of blogging—talking directly to customers, giving big business a personal touch, according to The Washington Post, which reports that out of 112.5 million blogs in the world, almost 5,000 of them are corporate.

Marriott International CEO Bill Marriott, a self-described technology Neanderthal, is quoted as saying he likes how his blog ( because it shows he’s “a human just like everybody else.”

CEO blogging expert Debbie Weil ( warns that particularly secretive companies, or those in dull industries, might be better off not blogging. “Some brands are just not hip, informal, conversational,” she says.

Former Jack Welch speechwriter Bill Lane has created a website to discuss and hawk Jacked Up, his fascinating book about his years writing for Welch. (

Could your top exec sell the company to a prospective investor in 60 seconds? To get a sense of how it’s done, visit the “Elevator Pitch” section (, of, a blog that profiles new Internet products and companies. Here you’ll see entrepreneurs make 60-second video pitches to venture capitalists, explaining their idea, their target market and everything else they have time for—and you’ll read, from the brutally honest reviewers, how the pitches went over. It’s like an American Idol for executive communication, but more serious and more instructive.

Especially in this political season, you can’t turn on the TV without seeing a speechwriter-turned-pundit. Not Ken Kurson, though. The speechwriter demurred old-school style in response to a query by about his role in writing former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani’s speech at the Republican National Convention. Kurson, who also co-wrote Giuliani’s best-selling biography, begged off in no uncertain terms, saying, “I’m utterly unimportant.”

Finally, The Washington Post published a surprisingly naïve piece last month by a University of South Alabama English professor named David McGrath. He argued that giving speeches written by others is no more ethical than buying a term paper, and concluded:
“If contemporary political candidates cannot find time to write all their speeches, the way Teddy Roosevelt or Abraham Lincoln did, they should at least craft the major ones. And when they must use speechwriters, they should credit the writer at the conclusion so the public knows the true source of the work.”
We’re not holding our breath.


Corporate blogging trends … behind the scenes in the big leagues … the state of the art of the ‘elevator pitch’

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