To Blog or Not To Blog: Now Is the Time
Click here to read this story in the November issue of Business Review USA!
Written by Suzanne Bates
There are CEOs who are immersed in blogging and they love it. Blogs are tools they use to reach their markets and extend their brands. Today you can start a conversation, show thought leadership, and stand out quickly with a good strategy and rich content in a forum that you control.
But among many who grew up B.I. (Before Internet), blogging seems like a chore. Most are baffled by it. They can’t imagine keeping a “diary,” online, yet they also feel a little concerned they are going to be left behind.
Why CEOs Don’t Blog
The reluctance to go “social” is driven by concerns about guidance, misguidance, or releasing sensitive information inadvertently. There’s a general feeling that it simply isn’t necessary and could even be harmful. Not only that, but CEOs of all size companies are busy people. So what’s the best use of your time?
At the same time, there is a legitimate reason to think that eventually CEOs will start using social media and networking. It may be the future of reputation management tools. CEOs in general have had a tough time in the media, battling negative press about salaries, bonuses, and business practices. A blog, well done, is a great tool to build goodwill and counter negative PR.
The one thing to remember again is the conversation going on. People are talking about you. In the context of brand management, you want to be in on the conversation.
What will people find when they Google you? Articles? Op-Eds? Videos from your interviews? Speeches on YouTube? Someone in your company must be in charge of managing your public profile in the “social” world. Someone needs to infuse it with positive news and monitor negative press. If you’re smart, you’re already thinking about the best way to communicate in the online world
How CEOs are Using Blogs Now
CEOs are blogging for different reasons that are unique to them and that support their brands in many different ways. Here’s a brief look at a few and what they are all about.
- Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, posts once a week, often sports rants about what’s wrong with college football. Sometimes he tackles more esoteric business topics, such as what’s wrong with Fed monetary policy. And he’s not afraid of weighing in on less serious topics, like why he thinks Bristol Palin could win “Dancing with the Stars.”
- Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is often mentioned on the topic of leader blog lists. Zappos is the company that made shoe buying on the Internet easy. After Amazon acquired Zappos, Hsieh kept blogging for Zappos, mainly about goings-on at the company. The blog posts were well-written pieces that gave outsiders the feeling they were peeking in on the inside.
- Dell CEO Michael Dell uses his blog to start two-way conversations. That’s worth noting because he has leveraged blogs as a customer relationship tool. Blogs are not a one-way street. You get feedback, and you can use it to gather incredibly valuable information about how people see your company.
How to Start Writing
If you’re unsure where to begin, one strategy you can employ is “writing out loud.”
Turn on a tape recorder, have someone ask you questions and just talk. Have them transcribe and edit what you’ve said. Readers have a sixth sense about whether a leader’s blog is really coming from them. This is a way to ensure it does.
As to how often to blog, you need to be regular or you won’t gain a following. You have to do what is realistic for your schedule. Think about making a post once a week, or twice a month. Set up a system for capturing your ideas quickly, and if you can, have someone on your team handle the actual posting if it is not convenient for you.
Is now the right time?
Now is the right time! Perhaps you’d like to use your blog as a research tool. Perhaps you want to establish thought leadership in an area. Perhaps you’ve always enjoyed writing and see it as an outlet. Most CEOs will need someone to help them. Even if you’re in a small company, set up a system for developing your blog ideas, for editing, for posting, unless you want to do any or all of that yourself.
Be sure you have someone monitoring comments as well. Blogs are still a new medium, so don’t be afraid to experiment with what works for you! Yes, now is the time!
Suzanne Bates is author of a new book just released this month “Discover Your CEO Brand: Secrets to Embracing and Maximizing Your Unique Brand as a Leader” from McGraw-Hill. CEO of Bates Communications, a firm that transforms leaders into powerful communicators who get results, she is also author of www.thepowerspeakerblog.com and two other books from McGraw-Hill: “Speak Like a CEO” and “Motivate Like a CEO.” Visit Suzanne's website: www.bates-communications.com
How AWS helps NASCAR delight its fans
AWS needs no introduction to readers of Technology Magazine but we rarely get an opportunity to look closely at how it serves the sports sector. All major sports draw in a huge supporter base that they want to nurture and support. Technology is the key to every major sports organization and enabling this is the driving force for AWS, says Matt Hurst, Head of Global Sports Marketing and Communications for AWS. “In sports, as in every industry, machine learning and artificial intelligence and high performance computing are helping to usher in the next wave of technical sports innovation.”
AWS approaches sports in three principal areas. “The first is unlocking data’s potential: leagues and teams hold vast amounts of data and AWS is enabling them to analyze that data at scale and make better, more informed decisions. The second is engaging and delighting fans: with AWS fans are getting deeper insights through visually compelling on-screen graphics and interactive Second Screen experiences. And the third is rapidly improving sports performance: leagues and teams are using AWS to innovate like never before.”
Among the many global brands that partner with AWS are Germany's Bundesliga, the NFL, F1, the NHL, the PGA Tour and of course NASCAR. NASCAR has worked with AWS on its digital transformation (migrating it's 18 petabyte video archive containing 70 years of historical footage to AWS), to optimize its cloud data center operations and to enable its global brand expansion. AWS Media Services powers the NASCAR Drive mobile app, delivering broadcast-quality content for more than 80 million fans worldwide. The platform, including AWS Elemental MediaLive and AWS Elemental MediaStore, helps NASCAR provide fans instant access to the driver’s view of the race track during races, augmented by audio and a continually updated leaderboard. “And NASCAR will use our flagship machine learning service Amazon SageMaker to train deep learning models to enhance metadata and video analytics.”
Using AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning, NASCAR aims to deliver even more fan experiences that they'd never have anticipated. “Just imagine a race between Dale Earnhardt Sr and Dale Jr at Talladega! There's a bright future, and we're looking forward to working with NASCAR, helping them tap into AWS technology to continue to digitally transform, innovate and create even more fan experiences.”
Just as AWS is helping NASCAR bridge that historical gap between the legacy architecture and new technology, more customers are using AWS for machine learning than any other provider. As an example, who would have thought five years ago that NFL would be using ML to predict and prevent injury to its players? Since 2017, the league has utilized AWS as its official cloud and ML provider for the NFL Next Gen Stats (NGS) platform, which provides real-time location data, speed, and acceleration for every player during every play on every inch of the field. “One of the most potentially revolutionary components of the NFL-AWS partnership,” says Matt Hurst, “is the development of the 'Digital Athlete,' a computer simulation model that can be used to replicate infinite scenarios within the game environment—including variations by position and environmental factors, emphasizing the league's commitment to player safety.”