Tuesday, September 20, 2005

What's Honest?

I live in Massachusetts, where every governor seems to have aspirations beyond his current job. This past week, Governor Mitt Romney went on national TV to talk about disaster planning in Massachusetts.

Let's ignore the substance of his talk for a moment. Romney is considered likely to run for president, even as he's dismissed this sort of talk. But what I noticed about it was his choice of venue: CNN.

Boston has many fine media outlets including the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, WCVB, WHDH, WBZ, WLVI and WGBH. All have news divisions and all are pretty major. So why go on national TV to talk about regional policy?

The answer to that should be pretty obvious: he wants national exposure. His words and his actions just don't match up.

So why bring it up here?

Because in the blogging world readers demand honesty. A blog just doesn't add much to the conversation if the author is trying to hide something. This is, in part, why Dave Taylor suggests that CEOs don't blog. He touches on what I consider to be the real reason when he writes:

ThereÂ’s one more factor to consider when inviting executives, particularly a corporate CEO, to get involved with a company blog: the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, among others, keep a very close eye on what executives at companies share with their investors and customers. Forward looking comments can lead to trouble, but disparaging a competitor in a parenthetical remark can burst into a major corporate wildfire without warning too, not because the remark might be extraordinary, but because itÂ’s the CEO who is saying it.
The fact is, CEOs--especially those of public companies--are legally beholden to their shareholders and investors, and few others. They also know too much, including information that could, if released prematurely, have a severe impact on the company. So they can't be completely open and honest in all their posts, because it could violate the law.

Still, there are those CEOs who should, in fact, start blogging. This is a strategic decision that must be made by the company in conjunction with the marketing and PR people. But I look at it this way: if you're a spokesperson for the company and thought leadership is part of your message, then you NEED a blog, because your voice counts.

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