Most employees assume CEOs don’t write their own blogs. And in most companies, they’re right. The blogs posted under the names of the top executives have usually been ghost written by someone several rungs below and edited by one or two others before the so-called author ever sees the piece. The messages are carefully crafted, but often very lengthy and not authentic in the least.
That’s because most CEOs don’t have time to blog. Or because none of their trusted advisors has suggested the importance of them taking a few minutes to dash off a few paragraphs once in a while. Even the occasional tweet from the big cheese might be preferable to a highly produced essay-length post that is clearly ghost written.
Employees want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. Tribe’s national research indicates that employees of large companies prefer to learn about two topics in particular – vision and change – directly from their company leadership.
So what’s an internal communications department to do? Here are three suggestions for leadership communications that are more authentic –and require a limited time commitment from the execs.
1. Make it a Q&A piece or feature article: You don’t have to speak in the CEO’s voice to share his or her views. Rather than pretend the executive is doing the writing, let the internal author come out from behind the curtain. Ask three or four questions about a topic and let the executive ramble. Then edit a concise response from the words that actually came out of his or her mouth. You can also use the same 15-minute interview to write a feature article for the intranet or company magazine.
2. Make it a video: Some people are very comfortable talking to camera. As in the Q&A interview described above, let the executive ramble and then edit some of the nicest pieces together for a one to three-minute video. Let them know it doesn’t matter if they mess up and need to say something over again, because you’ll only include the best parts in the final edit. You might get several short videos out of one 3o- or 45-minute on-camera interview.
One strength of this format is that video can humanize executive leadership. Employees not only get to see their faces; they hear their voices and watch their body language, all of which helps them feel like they know them personally. And that builds trust in leadership.
3. Try a podcast: Podcasts are back. Or if you never noticed them before, they’re here. Podcasts on iTunes have topped a billion subscribers. Almost 40 million Americans say they’ve listened to a podcast in the past 30 days.
Plus, executives don’t need to worry how their hair looks. It can be a lot less stressful for many people to be recorded than videotaped. If they stumble over their words, they can try it again as many times as they want. Remind them that the edit will use only the most polished bits. And like the video suggestion above, one interview can be edited into several podcasts.
Interested in helping your leadership communications be more authentic? Tribe can help.