CEOs who engage with their stakeholders through blogs explain why it works for them.
Many association CEOs remain reluctant to blog despite its advantages: Blogging lets members see you as a person, learn what you really think about the issues facing your association, and give you instant feedback. Some common worries persist, though. A handful of experts address the biggest myths:
1."I don't have time." Blogging definitely does take some time, but probably not as much as your magazine column. Tom Skiba, CEO of the Community Associations Institute, has been writing his Ungated blog for three years. He averages a new posting every eight to nine days. "I realized that the items don't have to be enormous, and I do think that posting something is better than not doing it at all," he says. "My job is to communicate with and respond to members. There are lots of ways to do that, and I think we need to use as many of them as we can."
2. "Blogging would take me away from my ‘real' duties." CEOs who blog see their posts as just another way to communicate with members. Tom Menighan, CEO of the American Pharmacists Association, has been writing Tom's Travels since he took the job in July 2009. He tries to post a couple of times a week. "The frequency is often dictated by breaks in my schedule," he says. "I write the postings in the moment, so there's a certain degree of spontaneity." Enjoy the experience, Menighan urges. "You can't view it as drudgery."
3. "A blog would expose the association legally." The biggest risk to blogging is inadvertently revealing confidential information or trade secrets, says Jennifer Kashatus, a lawyer with the firm of Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice PLLC, who specializes in privacy issues. To prevent mistakes, she suggests having legal counsel or senior staff review your posts. (Menighan has at least two other people read his.)
4. "No one will read it." John Grau, CEO of the National Electrical Contractors Association, began blogging about three years ago at the suggestion of management consultants. Casual mentions from members at gatherings show that they're reading, and there's another plus: "The blog makes my job easier in some ways," Grau says. "It enables me to know immediately how people perceive things I say."
Jennifer J. Salopek is a freelance writer in McLean, Virginia. Email: [email protected]