Executive blogging = boring?

PR flacks have discovered blogging, and the world is a much sadder place therefore.  And nowhere is this dementia more apparent than with executive blogging from high tech firms.

Now, lest you think I am too cynical about executives,  I do not blame them … entirely.  After all they fall pray to the same obscene vices as others in power.  They have added trauma in the form of half crazed marketing types who, in their desperate search for publicity and corporate differentiation seek new venues for spewing their effluvium.

The sorry state of affairs can be summed up in two words: missed opportunities.  In reading blogs from Jeff Jaffe, CTO at Novell, Jonathan Schwartz, CEO at Sun (talk about a fellow with a tough row to hoe), John Dragoon, CMO at Novell (repeat previous comment), Larry Augustin (CEO at Medsphere and Venture Adventurer), Ray Ozzie, various Red Hat suits, and others, we see the following forms of executive utterances that miss the point of blogging entirely:

Promotional:  Some executives (or their staff writers) use blogging as shameless promotional platforms.  Now, we can expect anyone to use their blog to promote their products ( especially thosemarketing geniuses at
Silicon Strategies Marketing
).  But many executive bloggers substitute advertising copy for meaningful content.

FUD: I once reported on an exchange in an HP executive blog and a Sun
executive blog where they spoke about the same customer, and used the blog space
to berate one another.  Other executive blogs have used analyst reports,
open speculation, and alleged customer comments to create fear, uncertainty and
doubt about markets, competitors, and strategic directions.

Self aggrandizement: Do blog readers really want to know what power
broker you dined with or hear how you saved you company by cutting quarterly
losses in half?  Yet some executives seem to use their blog as a canvas on
which to paint heroic portraits of themselves … supposedly to find a better
job once the boards of their current company ousts them.

The purpose of a blog is to communicate and build report with the reader. 
By building report, you build trust, which in turn builds brand.  If
readers ever feel they are not receiving quality information, they will at best
tune you out, and at worst start mistrusting you and your company.

If you are contemplating this form of PR, then follow Guy’s Rules for
Executive Blogging:

  • Think again.  Do you have the time to routinely offer something
    meaningful to your readers?  If not, don’t waste your time or theirs.
  • Pick your audience and write specifically for them.  Know who you
    are communicating to, and why, and keep your blog focused.
  • Don’t write about yourself.  Nobody cares.
  • Don’t write about your company and products in general.  That is
    why your web site exists.
  • Don’t echo your press releases.  We already have those, and if they
    are like many press releases, they are content free and thus useless.
  • Give people a chance to respond in comments — feedback is useful to
    you, and let’s customers feel like they have influence.
  • Don’t let you employees comment — this is soooo transparent that I was
    shocked to see this on the blogs of well known executives.
  • Finally, think before you write.  Have something worth saying that
    makes a difference in the lives of the reader.  Otherwise your audience
    will eventually consist of just your PR flacks.

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