Blog Schmog

Molly Rowe, Senior Editor, Leadership , December 7, 2007
Everyone's got a blog these days: My coworkers, my cousin, my dentist- I half expect my cat to launch her own one day. Even CEOs, the least bloggy-types I know, are writing online diaries. We in the media love this kind of honesty from a senior leader-especially when it blows the roof of a scandal รก la Whole Foods. But not every senior leader (nor every PR department) is comfortable blogging freely about an organization's inner workings, and, even more, not all blogs are worth reading. For all their strengths, CEOs aren't really known for being fun and informal-especially in print.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CEO Paul Levy is one CEO who manages to mix casual writing with actual news and information. Earlier this year, he posted the question, "Do I get paid too much?" on his blog, Running a hospital, spurring media attention nationwide. Since then, he's written about his hospital's infection control rates, his Joint Commission survey, and BIDMC's ongoing debate with the Massachusetts nurses' union.

Corporate blogging and social media consultant Debbie Weil says although CEOs have lots of important things to say, they often don't know how to say them in a way that's not corporate speak. As author of The Corporate Blogging Book and publisher of her own blog, BlogWriteForCEOs, Weil's spent a lot of time reading and studying CEO blogs. The best blogs, Weil says, follow some basic guidelines:

Write less, more often. Don't feel you have to write 2,000 words every entry. A paragraph or even a sentence will do, as long as you're posting a new entry at least every week (she suggests two or three times a week). This generates new content, which increases the chances that search engines find your blog.

Be real. Step away from the style of your annual report. Your writing should be casual with links, videos, and photos. At the same time, even fun and informal writing should have a point. Readers don't really care, for example, what you had for breakfast. And, of course, as a senior leader, you must balance honesty with common sense.

Write for the Web. Weil calls it "purposefully organizing the content of your blog." Use keywords that your customers might be searching on. Create categories for those phrases. And title your blogs carefully for good search engine placement.

Even if you're a blogaphobe like me, you can't deny the power of a well-written blog. Assuming you get people to read it, it's a free and relatively easy way to communicate with your customers, your staff, and the media (I'd much rather read a well-written blog than a template press release). In healthcare, a good blog can make a relatively sterile, scary environment more approachable and friendly. So, if you haven't yet thought about launching your own, you might want to, and if you're one of those trendsetting leaders who already has, email me; I'd love to visit it.

Molly Rowe is leadership editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at

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