Five Executive Blog Mistakes to Avoid

Picture this: After attending an industry conference, one of your company’s senior executives returns to tell you that she wants to start her own blog. However, when you ask her, “Why?” she doesn’t have a good answer, other than that her peers at competitor companies have their own blogs, and she wants one too.

Certainly this isn’t the first ego-induced communications decision that’s ever been made. And with more than 100 million blogs currently in existence, it’s easy to see how an executive could take a “me too” attitude.

But before venturing down this path, it’s important to think through your communications strategy. There are just as many potential pitfalls as there are opportunities for success. Here are five common mistakes communicators make when managing an executive blog and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Not Setting Realistic – or Measurable – Goals
Identifying a clear purpose, as well as realistic and measurable goals, is just as important when it comes to a blog as it is for any other communications effort. Think about what you’re trying to achieve. Is it to increase awareness, change attitude or encourage action?

2. Not Keeping the Voice Real
Despite the embarrassment caused by the fall out of highly publicized “fake blogs,” many companies still fail to appreciate the importance of keeping an executive blog authentic. And once the rigors of developing fresh content on a regular basis becomes clear, it’s easy to see how an executive would pass the responsibility of writing his or her blog off to someone in the communications department. However, this isn’t simply another writing task. The very nature of blogs implies that the person to whom the blog is attributed is actually the person writing the blog. With employee trust at an all time low, it’s not worth risking further damage. If your executive is not willing to commit to writing the blog him/herself, it’s better not to have one at all.

3. Not Sourcing Content
The casual nature of blogs can make it easy to overlook the need to appropriately source information. But providing sourcing information is particularly important when siting statistics, research, anecdotes and the like, as it allows readers to dive deeper into the topic if they wish. And copyright issues still apply.

4. Not Publishing Regularly
The allure of publishing a blog can wear off quickly for the busy executive. So before starting a blog, get your executive to commit to publishing on a regular, frequent basis. The expectations for keeping a blog up-to-date are much more stringent than for printed publications. A blog’s content should reflect what’s happening now–not a topic that was selected months in advance.

5. Not Thinking from the Audience’s Perspective
Many internal blogs are started from the perspective of what an executive wants to communicate, as opposed to what the readers are interested in. Whether it’s an internal blog that pushes corporate gobbledygook, or an external blog that makes a “hard sell,” it’s easy to turn off the reader. Blogs are for sharing insight on an emerging trend, providing thoughts on current news or openly discussing challenges and potential solutions–not for pushing a corporate agenda.

Tip: Looking for a great example of an executive blog done right? Check out Bill Marriott’s blog. At 74-years-young, he’s chairman and CEO of Marriott International. And while he admits to being a “Neanderthal when it comes to technology,” he’s made it a point to get comfortable writing his own blog.

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