A recent thread on the Melcrum LinkedIn group asked about executive blogging on intranets. Although blogging has been around for a couple of decades, people in internal communications still often ask us about the best way to get started, so here are some tips.
Blogging – the exec summary
- The main difference between an executive blog and traditional internal communication is that it should be personal. So write as an individual, sharing your thoughts, priorities, goals and concerns as if you were talking to someone in a conversation.
- While news can be discussed, even announced, within a blog article, remember you are speaking for yourself, so add comment or a personal insight.
- By all means let the internal comms team help go from draft to publication, but take care not to sanitise the message or it will lose its authenticity. The same applies to ghost-writing: it happens, but people tend to intuitively see through it.
- You do not have to publish the article yourself. The comms team can support the whole process of topic selection, message drafting, and publishing, but people tend to trust things that are published soon after an event, so keep the process simple. Some executives dicate their blog as a voicemail and get it written up.
- The whole blog does not have to be ‘owned’ by one person. One option is to have a ‘Blog from the board’, with each board member being a blogger of the month. Multiple authors can add variety, and ensure regular articles are published.
- If you want to get comments and really engage people, then the end of the article should pose a question for readers, or directly ask for ideas, questions and comments. However, not every post will get comments.
- In turn this means that you need to be prepared for comments of all kinds (and off-topic questions), so it’s important that the comms team monitor responses. This is hardly ever about ‘deleting swear words’, it’s about making sure employee voices are heard.
- Leaders often worry about very negative comments, but so long as responses are not anonymous, this is very rare in practice. When it does happen it is usually better to have the sentiment expressed and addressed than buried.
- You don’t have to reply to every comment individually, but you should acknowledge common points raised so that people feel it is worth commenting on future posts. There’s nothing wrong in telling someone that they should take it up with their line manager too.
- It can take time for people to feel comfortable leaving comments. The comms team can nudge their contacts and ask for some comments to get the ball rolling. This shows other readers that commenting is ‘allowed’. One company even has a ‘court jester’ character to stir up discussion.
- Other execs should definitely add comments to colleagues’ blog articles – leading by example and demonstrating the value of open dialogue.
- Blogging can be faster and more warmly received than polished articles that read like press releases. Executive blog articles should form part of every comms team’s communication schedule / news pipeline, and be included in analytics monitoring so that they can be refined over time. Remember to promote the blog posts via the intranet and through other internal communication channels: this should headline the individual posts rather than be a static link to ‘Boss’s Blog’.
Getting executives communicating more frequently, or sharing their insights in a more accessible manner, isn’t about telling them ‘to blog more’, it’s about helping leaders express their priorities and insights (even concerns). The ‘blog’ thing is just the channel; the intranet is just the platform.
Join the ongoing discussion around executive blogging within the Melcrum Communicator’s Network on LinkedIn, or share your experiences below in the comments.