Frontline teams and officers have been using social media as a way to connect with people direct. But how about senior people? There's a growing trend that this can work too.
by Dan Slee
There's been a few reasons but of late I've been paying more attention than usual to blogs maintained by senior people.
Who are senior people? I'd say chief executives, senior officers and maybe even a serving officer in the Britrish Army.
There's been some really poor senior blogs I've chanced upon in the past. For a long time I've thought that the best stories are at the frontline and it's for frontline people to blog as a way of connecting with a wider audience. I still think that and there's plenty of examples of why this is good.
However, a couple of posts just recently have made me stop and take notice.
I've written about the new Chief Executive of Birmingham City Council Mark Rodgers before.
But elsewhere, there are a some real shining examples.
Richard Branson, chief executive of Virgin
LinkedIn have pioneered a blogging platform with some quite weighty figures flying the flag. Chief amongst these is Richard Branson the chief executive of Virgin who has written a handful of times to a huge audience. A total of 378,000 have seen the best advice he was given by his mother, for example.
Tom Fletcher, British Ambassador to Lebanon
More than 100,000 read his Open Letter to the Lebanese people in the first week it was published at a time that coincided with 70th anniversary of the founding of the country. He regularly gets more tha n 3,000 views and is able to connect with an audience interested in the country. Should an ambassador blog? Can they be trusted? They're already trusted and every letter, speech and interview needs to be carefully measured.
Andrew Muter, Chief Executive Newark and Sherwood District Council
Andrew has written guest blogs on leadership such as this think piece on the role of the leader and chief exec relationship. They are warm and personal and work well as you can see here.
Lisa Rodriguez, Chief Executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Trust
In a regular midweek message Lisa speaks here about her plans for retirement and in a frank and human piece talks about her own issues with depression in an organisation that helps people with depression. That takes guts. It's also a very personal piece and as a piece of coimms works well as the person at the top tackles those at the bottom.
Gary Payne, Chief Executive of Wyre Council
In an address about staff and to staff he talks about staff survey results and looks back fondly on the changing landscape local government now operate in.
Warrant Officer First Class Esther Freeborn
Although not a regular blog but a guest blog the British Army site brings together posts from the outposts of the service and shows that a collective blog can be maintained to show a variety of voices. Here Esther talks about joining up as a musician and her time in Kabul.
What are the benefits of a blogging senior officer?
1. Transparency. You can give some daylight to the job you do and the work that goes on behind the scenes.
2. Internal comms. You can communicate with your staff directly and swiftly. As a leader, why wouldn't you?
3. Being human. Of course, this is a real art that can't be taught. It's amazing how the ability to communicate directly as a human being with other human beings stands out when you see it. It can't be ghost written and it can't pretend.
4. Two way feedback. This is what I'm thinking of. What do you think?
5. Thought leadership. Here's what I did here and it really came off. You can do it too.
What could go wrong?
1. If you get someone to ghost write it for you. Tempting. But don't.
2. If you talk in cliche and jargon. Tempting but don't.
3. If you fail to respond to questions posted in the comments box. Or if you don't have a comments box. If you had a staff meeting you'd allow questions, I hope? Tempting but don't.
4. If you say you'll post every week and then don't bother. If you want to trial it then trial it. But don't neglect it. Tempting but don't.
5. If you think what you write won't see the outside world. Of course it will, but that's fine.
Dan Slee is co-founder of comms2point0 and in the top four of UK PR bloggers according to Cision.
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