Ref. Wired 15.04: The See-Through CEO

Some who've worked with me over the past year will find this mantra a familiar chant. There's nothing quite like an executive post when it's done artfully.

CEOs 2.0 should forget the bit about "Fire the Publicist," though. In the new transparency, the smartest of the executive blogging class will be those who keep their Publicists to their right and their SEOs to their left, and both of them close. The equation:

[CEO*(PR+SEO)] = (Reputation/Traffic) = Power

...and that isn't part of any Google algorithm, yo! It's up to the companies putting their figureheads out there to do this math for themselves. Those who approach it casually get ignored for irrelevant narciblogging, and those who approach it hastily and haphazardly court PR disasters. Those who are calculated but still as open as possible though, can reap major rewards.

Perhaps the best bits in the article are

It's not secrets that are dying, as one reader named gjudd noted, but lies.


Jason Goldberg, CEO of the job-finding site Jobster, discovered this the hard way. In December, rumors began swirling that he was planning layoffs. On his blog, Goldberg stoutly denied everything: "Everybody's all a-speculating. A lot of falsehoods are being bandied about." But he was also dropping coy and ominous clues. He posted a list of songs he was listening to, including "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" and "Dirty Laundry," and he reminded staff to use up their vacation days.

A week later, he announced that Jobster was - whoops - laying off 40 percent of its staff. Goldberg had to have known all along. Critics savaged him as a hypocrite, and mocking blog entries piled up.

Excellent points. Lies and hypocrisy are no less uncouth and intolerable than they've ever been... and these are not the same things as intelligent hoax and steath campaigns that, when done properly, audiences won't ultimately backlash against. Not at all.

If you're a C-level blogger it's critical not look C-list. In the wake of both some really good and some really bad blogging from bigshots, here's a nutshell crack at what seem to be the worst practices to avoid:

  • Be cautious with what to say or not, but don't get paranoid.
  • Don't play coy unless it's about something superficial and/or incidental. Sometimes cowardice is to the wolf as cleverness is to the sheep's clothing. Playfully seeding a little gossip has its place, but messing with people's livelihoods is seriously uncool.
  • Don't play marketer too much here, especially if you're the CMO. Once you've sent them your drafts and/or given them a heads up that you're going to blog on a certain subject, let your Publicist and SEO hash out those details, for the most part. Let them work with you on what keywords, wording and links you should be using where, but follow their lead on such finer production points like that (which you mostly don't have time for anyway).
  • Don't start flame wars unless you've carefully planned out their lifecycles in advance - thinking two steps ahead of who you'll be calling out. If someone's flaming you, resist firing back without getting a second opinion, and then a third, about how to interpret and respond to it (or not). Avoid blogging while emotional; keep cool.
  • It's all about the editing. Great posts can sometimes take days or even weeks to craft. Never publish anything that hasn't been written carefully.
  • Keep as accessible as possible and keep it real, but be smart about it. Do take chances to tactfully stir things up a bit per your messaging plan when they become evident, but don't mistake these as invitations to be an asshole.

Not all Chiefs need blog, and not all should.

To the rest: Godspeed!

- and everyone trembles before search engine rankings.

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