When blogs and social media really began to take off, there were some who argued that businesses should put their top executive’s face out there and get their CEO blogging about the company. Over time, that’s worked for some folks, and not so much for others. PR Daily offers further analysis on why it remains a challenging communications topic for many:
Mark Schaefer of Schaefer Marketing Solutions and the blog Businesses Grow says most CEOs will never get to that level of ease and comfort. Charismatic executives such as Steve Jobs and Richard Branson are atypical, he says, though that level of authenticity would certainly be an advantage for a CEO.
However, Schaefer says the interviews with the 10 bloggers show that they’re “out of touch with reality” in terms of what CEOs can and can’t say. “It’s naïve to believe that CEOs are going to be as authentic as someone who’s blogging about gadgets,” he says.
A key reason for that difference, he says, is the law. For example, a CEO whom Schaefer knows tweeted about a meeting with shareholders only to find he had broken a Securities and Exchange Commission rule. That CEO ended up paying a fine and having to appease angry investors.
“CEOs are under a tremendous amount of scrutiny,” Schaefer says.
The public isn’t the only constituency to consider, Olson says. Being critical of another company, another CEO, or the business environment in general may go over well in the public eye, but it “may threaten a CEO’s standing with his contemporaries or perhaps be read as disloyalty,” she says.
Likewise, saying doesn’t make up for doing, Olson says. Expressing sympathy for employees who lose benefits doesn’t mean much when a CEO is taking home a big salary or huge bonuses.
“PR can’t fix an inherently and systemically flawed corporate structure,” she says.
Bernstein points out that some points the bloggers make are contradictory. It’s hard to be fearless and authentically human at the same time, he says.
“Even Seal Team Six members feel fear,” Bernstein says. “However, coming across as confident despite any fear is admirable.”