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CEO Blogging? Don't Hold Your Breath

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-07-31

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The question of why chief executive officers at powerful companies do not blog has been circulating in the news again, with the Paper Of Record itself asking the question on a warm Sunday morning.

CEO Blogging? Don't Hold Your Breath
CEO Blogging? Don't Hold Your Breath

Why aren't there more Fortune 500 CEOs like Sun Microsystems' Jonathan Schwartz stepping up to the blog editor to post their thoughts? It's a topic the New York Times visited in the Digital Domain section on Sunday.

Randall Stross sets up the topic, but doesn't address the root issue of why more corner office chiefs of industry haven't succumbed to the blogging meme. He does demonstrate how blogging could be of benefit to those executives, and cited Schwartz on sounding the call to CEO blogging.

We addressed the CEO blogging topic in May 2005, and cited the one big shadow cast over corporate communications: SEC Regulation FD, or Fair Disclosure. Corporate commentary simply does not flow from the corner office like a pure mountain stream. Content needs to be massaged by PR and scrubbed by legal, to maintain consistency with the corporate image.

Schwartz is an exception, and his blog posts are not cleaned by the corporate apparatus. But he is in an industry where blogging has become part of the culture of technology. As a concession to the myriad regulations surrounding public companies, Schwartz has placed a "safe harbor" statement in a recent entry that provided some context to Sun's recent earnings announcement.

The argument for better communication of the executive message doesn't consider the reality of how busy CEOs are during a typical day. And someone who is smart enough to make it to the top isn't going to be sunk by making blog posts that could boomerang later.

It's far easier to enjoy a quiet dinner at a five-star restaurant with trusted friends who know how to keep their mouths shut when making the kind of comments we would like to see in an easily indexed and linkable blog.

If a CEO's commentary would be insightful enough to carry weight with lesser mortals, there is no motivation to do it for free on a blog. Not when five- and six- digit speaker's fees can be had for the CEO's time.

Even better, an obedient ghostwriter can turn what would be bits and pieces of blogged wisdom into a book. If the CEO has enough perceived authority in business, the bestseller list could be that tome's destination.

CEOs all wish to accomplish for themselves what they do for the company: earn a return on investment. Freely chatting about business theories and the impact of decisions looks like it will be on the golf course for a while longer.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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