Thursday, June 25, 2009

Blogging, discretion and leadership - is this a sign?

A survey of the Fortune Top 100 CEO's by the blog reveals that US captains of industry are unlikely to have their own Facebook page, have out of date Wikipedia entries, are unlikely to use professional networking sites and do not blog.

Interestingly, the list includes such techno-luminaries as Michael Dell and John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems, and whilst both are, as one might expect, more connected up than most, neither of them blogs.

There are those who believe that blogging is the future, a place where any individual can communicate directly, and there is an element of truth to this. Indeed, there are those who believe that those in positions of authority should blog, the view being, almost, that we have a right to know.

One of the primary reasons why CEO's don't blog is linked to issues of information release. Various elements of corporate law control the release of market-sensitive information, formalising the process so as to protect investors and ensure, as far as is possible, a level playing field. Of course, we know that such a level playing field doesn't exist, but no CEO is going to risk being prosecuted for something on a blog. Besides, given the desire of some people to read between the lines, seeing inferences that probably aren't there, why take the chance?

Another factor is one of time. Most of us have time - whilst our lives are hectic, we aren't worrying about thousands of jobs, or vast investment strategies. Blogging takes time, and the more precise and accurate you have to be, the longer it takes. For most of us, dashing off a posting takes only as long as it takes to have the idea and type it into the template. There are few consequences of error, unless you defame someone.

It is noticeable that, as with American CEO's, politicians at the summit of British government don't generally blog. When they do, they don't tend to talk about sensitive internal issues. After all, if what they say is being parsed for meaning, they're going to be extremely cautious about what they put in print and, as I've already noted, that takes time. Having seen Nick Clegg in action in a variety of situations, I know that he doesn't have much spare time, and that which does exist is devoted to his family - yes, politicians have lives too. I presume that David Cameron is in a similar position.

So, whilst some full-time politicians will use blogging as part of a 'corporate' communications strategy, it may not be the window into the political soul we might have hoped for.


Costigan Quist said...

As you'd expect, I'm a fan of (good) blogging.

But I do get a little pissed off with the crowd who seem to think you can't possibly be good or successful at whatever you do unless you blog, tweet and social network.

These are tools for those who wish to use them, not absolute requirements for everyone.

Oranjepan said...

Ah yes, but there's a difference between individual blogging to provide personal insight and official blogging as a means of communicating important and useful information.

While many top execs may not blog themselves, they most definitely have an input into those blogs which represent the views of their organisation under their all-encompassing media strategy.