Blogging with Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers

Good luck trying to get most executives to seriously contemplate blogging. Where am I going to find the time? Isn’t that what I pay my PR department to do?

Despite such protestations, some of the biggest names in corporate America are bloggers.

Consider this quotation from Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers:

“If you had told me I was going to [be blogging] three or four years ago I would have said, ‘Not a chance.’ Blogging is now the way I communicate with our employees, almost all video.”

Chambers’ remark came during an enlightening interview on a McKinsey Quarterly Podcast. His statement is notable for three reasons that I’ll enumerate and then discuss in a little more detail.

Chambers dismissal and eventual embrace of blogging.
His use of video recordings rather than written content.
His decision to blog internally rather than externally.
Let’s take point No. 1. If you currently see no value or payback in blogging, there are examples beyond John Chambers to consider – other chief executives who have found blogging a key communications tool. Among them are Virgin Cos. CEO Richard Branson, tech entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz and management legend and former GE chief executive Jack Welch.

All of them have blogs. Whether they manage those blogs or have them ghost written is immaterial. They still control the message. And take into account that these are not men who trifle with time-wasting activities. There must be something to blogging if individuals of their power and note are committing their time and energy.

Point No. 2, Chambers chose to use video rather than the written word to communicate with his people. It’s very common, albeit unfortunate, for executives to struggle with the written word. Video is a handy alternative for those who would rather speak than write.

I have no doubt many business people nix the idea of blogging because writing is simply unmanageable for them. Too time consuming. Too difficult. Most of them probably never considered that blogging can be done by video. (Note that blogging done by video is sometimes referred to as vlogging.)

Take a lesson from John Chambers and factor the video option into your thinking. Remember that it’s not unusual for bloggers to use a mixture of writing and video, depending on the nature of the information they have to communicate in that particular post. Just remember that even speaking requires some writing. You wouldn’t want your video statement to be extemporized from start to finish unless you’re an extraordinary speaker.