Blogging Truth: No One Likes Your CEO

July 8, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Content Strategy

Hey there. I want to talk about your company blog. Okay, more accurately, I want to talk about your company blog and why you’re letting your CEO ruin it. Make sure the boss is out of the room and then grab a pencil. Hide their keyboard while you’re at it.

Corporate blogging has been all the rage for a few years now. It’s to the point where almost every company has a blog. Which is great. In theory. However, somewhere along the line it became ordained that it’s the CEO of the company who should be blogging. After all, they are the one with the clout, the respect, and the name. Unfortunately, your CEO is probably also as exciting as dirt, void of people skills and would defend his or her baby even if it was brought up on murder charges. And it’s not their fault. CEOs are raised to bullshit, lie and conceal. It’s what makes them great business people. It’s also why they’re horrible bloggers.

The CEO Blogger Mystique is an interesting one. Whenever someone tries to sell me on the idea they always name drop Bill Marriott. If you can’t put it together, Bill Marriott is the figurehead of the Marriott hotel chain empire and blogger in chief of the Marriott on the Move blog. If you’ve never seen it, go check it out and then come back.

With me? It’s just a big ball of sex, right?

It boggles my mind when people offer that up as a good example of CEO blogging. Don’t get me wrong, it’s “cute” what they’re doing over there. But it’s also the equivalent of stopping by the old folks home to sit and listen to your great grandmother talk about her hard day of crocheting and Jello eating. Unless you’re a diehard Marriott hotel history buff, you don’t care about the adventures of Bill Marriott. That blog does nothing to educate people on the hotel, to get them excited about staying there, or to give them a feel for what the hotel is really like. And I bet the real people behind the Marriott know that. And that’s why they’re playing around with Go Courtyard (which has been in the same “pardon our dust” stage for months).

The problem with blogging CEOs is that they often do nothing to build excitement about the company. I don’t want to hear from them because they’re not tuned in to what’s really going on within the company. They don’t hear the truth. They hear what they want to be told. Bill Marriott can’t tell me what’s really happening with his hotels. He doesn’t know which locations are hot, he doesn’t know what it’s like to be an employee there or what the culture is, and he doesn’t stay in the same rooms us regular folk would. He’s the guy they wheel out for appearances and special occasions, not the person you’ll see if you stay there. That’s not genuine. I can’t connect with that.

And most people can’t connect with your CEO either. Which is why they shouldn’t be blogging.

The person with the most passion and excitement for your company is the one who should be steering the ship. Even if they’re not the best writer on staff or if that person is the guy who cleans the office at night. If that’s who’s the most excited about what you do, give him the microphone. I want to hear what he’s finding in the trash, I want the back story, I want the goods and I want something that I can relate to. I have a feeling I’d have a much easier time relating to that guy, someone who spends their days in the trenches, than I would to Bill Marriott. He’s bound to be way more interesting. And if the guy who cleans your office is that excited about working there, that’s probably a company I want to check out. I want to see what has him so hot and bothered about you that he smiles while moving your empty bottles into the recyclables. Excitement is like giggles. It’s infectious.

If you want to give people something interesting, put your CEO back in their box and introduce me to the person on staff with the most chutzpah. That person is going to be willing to admit mistakes, to share experiences and to give people something they can relate to and form a connection with. That’s the guy I want to get to know. He may not own the company or sign the paychecks, but he breathes it every day. I want to know what he’s like, and by association, what your company is really like. Bill Marriott is PBS. I’m looking for your company’s VH1 True Hollywood Story. I can relate to that.

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