How to Make a Great Executive Blog

By Jack Santos  |  Posted 2008-03-21 Print this article Print

Many senior IT and business leaders are taking to the blogosphere, but finding limited success. Here are a few tips and examples of what makes a great executive blog. 

Most senior executives know success does not hinge on having an excellent grasp of technology or even knowledge of top-notch strategy. Success relies on clear, consistent and frequent communication. Blogs are among the fastest growing forms of both mass and targeted messaging.

For teenagers, news reporters, authors, and Internet-addicted surfers with time to burn, blogs have become a cornerstone for staying in touch. While some executives have fully committed themselves to blogging, such as Sun Microsystems’ CEO Jonathan Schwartz, only a handful of executives at large corporations have publicly dipped their toes into the blogosphere.

Blogs are not a “build it and they will come” messaging vehicle. They take commitment, authenticity, and time to cultivate into a respected communications conduit. Executives that have unlocked the secret of blogging are enjoying tangible success in using the medium to communicate to employees and customers, market products and express their points of view. When it works well, executive blogs can be a form of advertising that talks with your target audience, not at them like traditional advertising.

The Burton Group’s review of executive blogs exhibits a body of offerings in various stages of repair. Many executive blogs are active, vibrant places for ideas and dialogue; many are also no longer available, or exhibit a long, slow descent into irrelevance as the result of not having been updated. Quite a few, unfortunately, are obvious products of public relations or marketing ghost writers.

Who are the most successful executive bloggers? The Burton Group evaluated 53 executive blogs from a variety of industries and disciplines for examples of blogging success. These bloggers take the time to write personable missives that easily convey copious amounts of information, keep their blogs up to date, and leverage their feedback forums for two-way communications.

The most impressive executive blogger we reviewed is Mark Cuban, owner and CEO of the Dallas Mavericks and former dot-com revolutionary. His CEO blog spans many topics—from management strategies for the Mavericks, the state of the sports industry, personal philosophy and concerns about politics. Cuban’s blog reflects the best of ad-hoc blogging; it’s direct, provocative, soap-boxish, and generates a wealth of comments (some of which Cuban replies to directly). That said, it may be too informal for the average executive, and reflects Cuban’s style—brash and no holds barred. 

Cuban, a tech entrepreneur turned celebrity, is not a typical executive blogger. For more conventional executive blogs, Paul Levy’s tops the list. The president and CEO of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center uses his blog to engage his constituency—he relates equally well to employees, the general public, and to physicians and medical staff. There is no question about what is on Levy’s mind, or where he stands on certain issues. He masterfully uses the blog forum to set a sense of mission and purpose for the hospital, but in an informal and personable way.

Jack Santos is CIO Executive Strategist with The Burton Group’s Executive Advisory Service, a Utah-based technology analysts firm, and a former CIO of several large enterprises.

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