Should PR stay completely out of the picture when the CEO starts a blog for public consumption? Or should PR be an element in planning how and what the CEO blogs?
The answer is: It depends.
There seems to be a school of thought that says there should be no role for PR in executive blogging (example: a post in the CEO Bloggers Club last week). The thinking is that because people engaged in PR just don’t understand blogs, they will attempt to impose traditional PR controls, spinning the CEO’s messages – or, worse, writing them – and vetting (censoring) what he or she wants to write about. Therefore, don’t let PR get involved.
I might agree with such views if it were that simple.
What is a blog in this context? Just another communication channel, nothing magical or special, simply another tool to use in developing effective relationships with audiences. It certainly has attributes that differentiate it from some other, more traditional, communication channels: its immediacy, informality, connectability and personality of its author, among other differentiators.
But, at the end of the day, it’s just another communication channel. I’ve had some lively discussion on this view with others who don’t agree. I’ve still not heard a sound argument that convinces me that a blog in this organizational context is anything other than that.
So I tend to view a blog that a CEO is going to author in a similar way to how I view any communication the CEO will undertake, whether that’s externally or internally. I’ll consider what the objectives are from the organization’s point of view in the CEO conducting such communication and how the means of communicating (ie, the blog) contribute to achieving the objectives. Make no mistake – there will always be clear objectives to achieve, as with any organizational communication activity, with clear plans on how to measure the success or otherwise in achieving those objectives.
In other words, where a blog fits in is as part of a normal communication planning process such as you would expect to do for any communication activity.
Therefore, I firmly believe PR has a significant role to play in the CEO’s blog for all the reasons why an organization has a PR department. That, however, is where the “it depends” answer, above, enters the picture.
I don’t think anyone will disagree that the last thing you want to happen is for the CEO’s blog to be ghost-written by the PR department or anyone else for that matter. There has been plenty of discussion on various business blogs in recent months on the issue of trust and credibility surrounding blogs; this falls squarely into that area. So if a PR person thinks his or her primary role is to do with actual content creation for the CEO’s blog, he or she shouldn’t go anywhere near that blog.
The writing is on the wall for PR people who believe wholly traditional practices using wholly traditional methods are what they need to continue doing, and have not yet discovered the way in which non-traditional (by comparison) methods like blogs must be part of their thinking. Take some risks!
PR departments don’t have a lot of time to get up to speed, as I advocated in a post yesterday. (My own communication background is about 50% in PR, by the way, so I’m speaking as a fellow practitioner here.)
If any CEO reads this post – especially if you’re CEO of a publicly-held company – I’d like to know your opinion.