I swear that’s the question I get asked most often recently. Sometimes it’s a reporter. Sometimes it’s a corporate speechwriter who bristles,
“I write the CEO’s speeches – why can’t I write his or her blog?”

Well here’s why: if someone else writes the CEO’s blog, then it’s not a, er, CEO blog. Yes, it’s a company or corporate blog. But it’s really just being used as an instant publishing channel. And what’s being pushed through is, more likely than not, edited and vetted and not authentic.

Now there are a few other ways to handle the “does the CEO really need to write the blog?” question. More on those below. But first…

Toby Bloomberg’s interview with CEO blogger Merrill Dubrow

Blogging diva Toby Bloomberg has posted a terrific interview today with a new CEO blogger, Merrill Dubrow, CEO of M/A/R/C Research.

My favorite part:

Toby/Diva Marketing: Level with me Merrill. You’re among friends. Are you really writing the blog yourself?          

Merrill Dubrow: I write like I talk and present – I have been told I will be a good blogger … I HAVE WRITTEN ALL OF THE POSTINGS SO FAR AND DOUBT THAT WILL EVER CHANGE … If I didn’t they would all be about research.

Toby notes that Merrill writes about:

“A mixture of personal, opinion, thought leadership and teachings about an industry he clearly loves .. marketing research. And the Red Sox. What would you expect from a guy from Boston?” – Toby B.

So there you have it. Laid out about as clearly as it can be explained. A CEO can blog about stuff that he/she has opinions about, is expert in, wants to convey or teach — plus a bit of personal stuff sprinkled in.

How personal? Well that’s up to the invidual blogger. I sure as heck don’t tell you, dear reader, when I’m having a bad day or why or what. I don’t *want* to reveal too much. Neither does any sensible business person.

So what if the CEO doesn’t want to write the blog – or can’t?

Well you’ve got several choices:

1. Hire or assign a blog editor and make it a group-author blog for your company or organization. Do a little Q & A with the CEO every now and then and post that to the blog. Don’t edit the good stuff out.

Be clear about who’s writing each blog entry. If it’s the blog editor, link his or her name to a brief bio.

2. Do a regular podcast with the CEO where he/she is interviewed by someone on staff. Or hire a professional to do the interviewing. Then post the podcast on the CEO’s “podcast blog.”

Check out PodTech.net Your corporate podcast need not be this polished. Here’s a year-old podcast with GM’s Bob Lutz that I really like.

3. If the CEO is raring to try a blog – but is worried that she’s not a good enough writer – tell her to have at it. Blog away. And if her writing needs a bit of polishing or editing, let the blog editor do it.

(Or hire a CEO blogging coach.)

Be upfront about it. In fact, get the CEO to admit that she’s working on her writing skills. We pay these top dogs an awful lot of money. Why shouldn’t they have to sweat a bit, like the rest of us, to express themselves in writing that is cogent, compelling, and uh interesting? 

Heck, isn’t a CEO’s job primarily one of persuasively and clearly communicating, whether it’s the company’s vision, strategy or mission?

Useful Links

The three biggest challenges for CEO bloggers are discipline, passion and writing ability

Why blog post frequency does not matter anymore by HP’s Eric Kintz

All the Internet’s a Stage. Why Don’t CEOs Use It? (my post on the New York Times article)

Beware the CEO blog by Seth Godin

CEO Blogging? Don’t Hold Your Breath by David Utter

List of CEO bloggers – If you know of another great CEO blog, send me the link and I’ll add it. It’s gotta be a good one! wordbiz(at)gmail.com

“Should the CEO Blog?” – Chapter 5 in The Corporate Blogging Book
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