Convincing the CEO to blog: Mission Impossible?

By Stanford Smith, Contributing {grow} Columnist

The meeting room looked like most across corporate America.  The fluorescent hum of recessed lights, the smell of 1-hour old Starbucks coffee, and the fake maple veneer conference table set the mood for another marketing meeting.

It’s your turn to update the team on your social media efforts for the last week.

Unfortunately the news is mixed.

You can’t seem to attract the right audience.  Content on the blog is anemic due to half-hearted writing efforts from various divisions.  Declining engagement numbers whisper of a blog that is failing to gain traction.

As you open your file folder you swear you hear Jeffrey, the traditional media superstar, mumble “dead-man walking” before you begin.

You clear your throat, stare intently at the CEO, and begin.

“Our blog is the hub of our social business initiative.  It plays a leading role in telling our company’s story.  It shows prospects and customers alike that we are a business that matters.  It’s the most cost-efficient way to tell a deep story about our products.  It’s critical for finding and cultivating brand evangelists.”

Jeffrey straightens in his chair, ever alert for the other shoe to drop.

You nervously re-adjust your water bottle a centimeter to the left and continue.

“But, every indicator shows that our blog, perhaps our most important marketing asset is dying”. You pause for blink waiting for the news to sink in.

After a moment you continue…

“And Maria” , your CEO straightens in her chair, “You are the only one that can save it.  If you choose.  Or we can continue to run the blog like an after-school project and watch a year’s worth of investment swirl down the toilet.”

The fluorescent lights hum their annoying applause.  Everyone unconsciously shifts their bodies away from you.

“Ok…”, Maria says, “Let’s do this”

Leaning onto her elbow, she narrows her eyes and say,

“Convince me.”

Today we’ll talk about what you could and should say.

If your corporate blog is dying a slow, anonymous death then you can plan on having this conversation.  Let’s make sure your prepared.

The Objections:
First you need to work your CEO’s most likely objections.  The common ones are:

“I Have No Time”

CEOs are beyond busy.  They are responsible for the entire business not just marketing.  They rely on their marketing team to understand and execute the marketing strategy.  The last thing on their mind is producing content for a blog.

In fact, they may get a little irritated by having yet another “to-do” placed on their list.  You must be prepared to meet this objection.

“Our Customers Don’t Read Blogs”

There is an ongoing debate in many companies around the social expertise of customers.  Many CEOs are skeptical that their customers have the time to read and comment on blogs.   While these executives are fine with a placeholder effort for their company they are waiting for news that their suspicions have been confirmed.

These executives have to be shown that customers not only read blogs but make business decisions based on what they read.

I’m Not A Writer

It’s known that Public Speaking is the #1 fear of most business executives.  I believe that “Public Writing” is the 2nd.  The fear of writing an article from scratch terrifies many CEOs and goads them into rationalizing their fear with other objections.

Even though you may have a bullet-proof argument, be aware that your executive will most likely be wrestling with their secret fear of writing.  You’ll need to factor this into your thinking when making your case.

Kicking Your CEO Off The Fence

Now that you know what is rolling around in the mind of your CEO, it’s time to kick them off the fence.  The good news is that if you already have a blog then you can take comfort that the CEO is open to making it better. All they need is a reality check.

Here’s how to administer some tough love…

Show them what prospects are saying

Your prospects are talking about you and your competitors on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other blogs.  They are asking for advice, getting recommendations and referring others to websites.

I recommend that you use a tool such as to start compiling a digest of these conversations.  Since your CEOs is the top salesperson and cheerleader for your company; they will hate not being a part of these conversations.

Ask your CEO this: “What impact would it have to offer a blog post written by you that answers our prospect’s top concerns or objections?”

For good measure, I would push a little further and inquire –

“Imagine the leadership we could demonstrate in the marketplace by being the first to show our CEO rolling their sleeves and engaging with our audience?”

Show them what the competition is saying


The Social Media party is in full swing.  Almost every company is trying to take advantage of the new channel.  It’s extremely persuasive to show your CEO that the world isn’t standing still.

Show her what the competition is tweeting or putting on Facebook.  Analyze your competition’s blogging efforts and provide a hard-hitting evaluation of their performance.  Paint your CEO a picture of how social media can quietly build competitive momentum and loyalty.

Pull examples of other companies with blogging CEOs.  Show how these executives are championing their brand, engaging with customers, and how they are leading by example.  Take the time to find good examples from a variety of different industries.



Show them what customers are saying


Go to and search for your company name.  Repeat this exercise on Google and examine the results using the “blog” link in the sidebar.  You can also use (free) or Radian6 to dig a little deeper.

Your goal is to create a snapshot of how your customers are talking about your company’s product and brand.

These customers are looking for cues that your company cares about them.  The #1 person for the job is your CEO.

Quick Ways to Get Your CEO Writing

If your CEO is already a writer then laying out your evidence will probably push them in the right direction.  Don’t be too critical of their initial posts.  Let them get into the groove of writing and watching their work get published.  Most of all don’t let them burn themselves out. One post a month is perfect for a new CEO Blogger.

On the other hand, if your CEO isn’t a writer then you will need to do a little (or a lot more) hand-holding.

Try this:

  • Create a clear 12-month editorial calendar: An editorial calendar takes the “what will I write” stress off your chief executive. Work on the calendar with your CEO to make sure that their priorities and concerns are baked into the final product.
  • Repurpose Current Communications: Your CEO probably already writes regular emails or columns for the internal newsletter.  Offer to review and repurpose these existing communications for the company blog
  • Ghostwriting: I am a fan of ghostwriting.  The benefits of CEO blogging is to great to get dogmatic about how the final post is made.  I recommend finding someone inside the company that can create a draft that edited and approved by the CEO.
  • One Post a Month: In the beginning, one post a month is fine.  Make sure that your CEO understands that the team is still executing the 99% of the work, but one post is needed to move the blog in the right direction.  In my experience, most CEOs end up writing more because they learn to enjoy the process.


I’m very interested in hearing your perspective on CEO Blogging.  Is it worthwhile?  Do you think that CEOs see the benefit of being the social voice of their company’s marketing efforts?

Stanford Smith is a hopelessly addicted angler, father of 3 hellions, and the wild-eyed muse behind Follow him on Twitter to get his latest unorthodox tips for getting your blog noticed and promoted.

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  • Hey Stanford, great to see you here!

    I think the answer is that it totally depends; whether the CEO should be blogging is a strategic decision that should factor the cost (their time, for the most part), against the likely return (how good they would be at it, how receptive their particular industry and market is likely to be at it, and tempered by how open and serious the CEO is likely to really be about it).

    I don’t think there’s an easy one-size-fits-all answer to this sort of question… it has to be very case-by-case.

  • Hi

    It is not only a problem to bring a CEO to blogging, there are several other issues, where you have to persuade most (at least many) of them.
    Here are some of them: Walking around, talking to “normal” employees, talking to customers, read an interesting new book, take a day off for strategic visions etc.
    I personally know a lot of CEOs that do not even use E-Mail or a PC at all. No, they are not all above 70.
    Nevertheless, I totally agree on your point. In German we have a proverb “Der Fisch stinkt vom Kopf” (The fish begin to smell on its head). I do not know the exact English version, but it means:  every change has to begin at the top of a company, if you really want to achieve change…
    Kind regards from Germany

  • It’s not easy to get the C suite involved but there’s some good tactics here. 

    Primarily the biggest stumbling block is time, at least that’s what I see. Inclination is next, particularly because Swedish business managers tend to be so reticent. 
    It’s far easier to get the marketing or comms dpt to take care of this and then perhaps include a few quotes from the boss. 

    Small businesses are much more open but as for major corporations, I can only think of one CEO blog in Sweden that has a real audience: Saltå Kvarn.

  • We just had a new CEO appointed today and one of the things he has mentioned is his intent to participate in the blog. YAY! So he has some awesome ideas for posts but needs some inspiration which I am more than happy to provide. Still working out the Plan, but my intent is to follow a similar approach to what you have hear. Create a schedule and work some outlines. I will ghostwrite posts – per se – but only because they help him create awesome stories like this one Now, thats a great post! Posted today and we have 2 new subscribes and its only 9:30am ET! I think we have broken new ground and people are getting it. I hope so anyways!

  • Great post.  Think in a couple years, as CEO blogging takes off, that you’ll write a post on how to tell a CEO that he/she should STOP blogging? 😉

  • This is so great. Thanks for this. Right now we are dealing with this exact problem. Our client insists he is “too busy” for any form of social media. This is such a common problem, and I do think maybe one or two blog posts a month at first might be a good way to get him started.

    I also love the idea of having an editorial calendar ready for him, and even ghostwriting and then giving them to the CEO to edit.I will be sharing this post with the bosses to show how to overcome those objections.

  • Wow that is shocking. And I totally agree with you on your philosophy that change must come from the top.

  • I see that too. But then again, it’s kind of a problem for all of us. : )

  • So happy to see you making progress Christina.  Great post too!

  • You might be right. The rising generation does love to blog!

  • Will be interested to follow your progress!

  • Wow, keep us updated! 

  • Never, Never, Never 🙂

  • I agree and I have yet to find that mythical one-size-fits-all answer.
    However, I think you need to be armed for the CEOs objections. 

  • Congrats on your early success! Your lucky to have a boss who “get’s it”

  • Good stuff. I’ve seen one CEO and one GM from previous corporate gigs actually start blogging, only to later completely stop. Major fail! They were experiencing firsthand the symptoms of treating what should be an inherently engaging experience as just another marketing tactic. From corporate blogging, to Facebook campaigns, Twitter in customer service, whatever, if the corporate/marketing mindset is that there is a sort of emotional firewall between customers and the company, then most if not all of these efforts will fail.  In working with clients, I don’t ever allow their executives the luxury of regurgitating the tired marketing drivel that might be the reality of their organization. That is one reason I don’t recommend getting marketing or PR folks into the handmaiden role with their CEO when working through this point. And in general I’m not a fan of ghostwriting, since ultimately the blogger should and must get to a place of personal engagement. And part of that requires knowledge. A good baby step might be to have the CEO do a private blog with a few select customers. They could be a good mix of long time happy campers, new customers, and the like. The reality is that most executives just don’t talk with customers that much, though this is changing. Here is a truly unique opportunity to walk them through a process of turning marketing inside out, from a “marketing at” reality, to the new reality of social business. And trust me, if an executive achieves a breakthrough, a marketing satori if you will, they will be on fire. And then your job just got orders of magnitude easier. 

  • Anonymous

    Contributing to a blog once a month isn’t too much to ask of a CEO. It may help if you can somehow convince him or her it was their idea.

    If they are skeptical of their ability to do it, there should be ample material from the past three months from their correspondence, presentations, leadership commentary etc to form the basis for the first three blogs. If you have trouble finding anything your CEO has said in the past three months that you believe would be of interest to your customers, then you may have trouble with your blogging CEO. Good thing it was their bright idea.

    If your CEO can’t be human, helpful and/or humorous and speak with passion, personality and purpose in their blogs, it’s better to find another voice or voices from within the company to speak on its behalf.

    In my opinion, it’s a good idea to supplement additional articles by others between the monthly posts by the CEO. Once a week is a better pace than once a month.

  • Marty, I really like the idea of a private blog with select customers.  That IS a great way to get them warmed up to a public facing blog.  Thanks for the comment!

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  • Great advice and suggestions for getting the c-suite execs involved and actively participating.  Just like there are companies that get “it” while others don’t, there are CEOs that should be blogging and some that probably should turn that over to a ghost writer. All in all, social media buy-in needs to start at the top. 

    Thanks for giving us a mention. I’ve found that once folks see the conversation around their brand, they’re much more likely to get involved.

    – Trish  @Dayngr
    Community Manager | Radian6 

  • I think getting the CEO involved is a great idea. It shows puts his/her skin in the game and shows leadership. After all, isn’t that one of the primary roles of the CEO? And it’s likely so rare that CEOs are actually blogging that I think it would cause prospects, customers and yes, the competition to sit up in their chairs a little bit. 

    Certainly, it would be tough for a CEO to shoulder all of the content, but I think a monthly post is a great way to let the CEO put her toe in the water and try it out. And ghost writing and re-purposing content is a great way to do it if the CEO is really hesitant (or too busy) to start from scratch. Video might be another option to get the CEO involved. A short video might be easier for some CEOs to tackle than writing a post.

    Great post, Stan!

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