Thursday, January 4

Working In A Bubble

There has been ample discussion about transparency, as it relates to blogs in particular, but it seems to me corporate transparency is optional, and best left to the discretion of each individual company. You see, I don't subscribe to the notion CEOs shouldn't blog. I think it depends on the CEO and, more importantly, the company's business strategy.

It seems to me the only problem with corporate transparency is the number of CEOs that try it without really understanding what it means. Worse, few consider that working in a bubble might be a different environment all together, becoming a public figure aside.

Maybe the answer to the question, whether to blog or not, lies within a seemingly unrelated question. How prepared are we to manage our reputation once we gain transparent visibility?

It's tricky stuff, doubly so if you have any hope to keep your message consistent. Here are 8 basic questions (I collected them from several experts and executives over the years) to ask about your corporate reputation management, adjusted a bit to skew toward CEO blogs.

1. Can you keep your focus narrow and potential issues manageable?
2. Are you willing to take responsibility (not necessarily accountability) for all employee actions and outcomes, even those outside of your control?
3. Will you maintain a positive, assertive, calm communication style that focuses attention on the most important aspects of any problem?
4. Are you willing to move toward resolution despite any negativity, including antagonistic reporters and crazy bloggers?
5. Are you ready to concede that if your local disaster becomes regional or national, that it is totally your doing?
6. Do you realize that your actions and posts will influence those around you and have an impact on your reputation and the company?
7. Are you prepared to answer tough, probing, and sometimes trick questions from not only the media but also anyone who happens by?
8. Are you willing to share your ideas internally or with consultants prior to posting in order to ensure everyone is on the same page?

If you answer no to any of these questions, then you should probably stay out of the business of blogging. Of course, if you answer no to any of these questions, your company is operating without any concern for reputation management anyway, and sooner or later you'll learn the hard way (these questions apply to picking a company spokesperson too).

Having worked with CEOs and, even more maverick, politicians, I can safely say that the decision to be transparent or blog is an individual question. As many as I have advised to blog, there are dozens more I have advised not to blog. For each, I base my advice on whether it makes strategic sense for the company and if the CEO (or anyone for that matter) is fit to be a blogger.

Or perhaps I shouldn't say "blogger" given the industry push to change the term. What is a blog? Seems to be a lot things to a lot of people, and I don't think narrowing the definition will change that.

Of course, if we are all going to make our companies "bubbles," I propose a new occupational title: "window washer." Just kidding.


Rich on 1/4/07, 5:43 PM said...

Famous First Words:

Amitai Givertz's Blogersity Blog asks:

• How does the set up of a blog contribute to a blog’s success?
• What is it about how you blog that makes the blog a success?
• What is it about the content on a blog that makes the blog a success?

His post should make for an interesting discussion. Something worth watching...


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