6 reasons finance CEOs should consider personal-business blogs

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Putting a face to the name
By Susan Burchill, staffer. 8 October, 2019
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Most blogs penned by wealth managers or asset managers have a similar mission: to give measured, no-nonsense investment or market commentary for the benefit of clients and prospects.

And that’s a very valid content strategy: providing useful information that helps people make more informed decisions and have more confidence in their investments. But it’s missing an opportunity.

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Personal-business blogs, a more personal style of blogging allows you to do more. In her Pagely article about CEO bloggers, writer Raelene Morey describes the power to “inspire through thought leadership on an authentic and more personal level.” She talks of letting readers in and giving them an understanding of the person behind the brand. It’s really about showing vulnerability and authenticity.

Inspire through thought leadership on a more personal level.

This kind of personal-business blogging requires you to weave in stories of your everyday life, recount your most important business experiences and be honest about your highs and lows. Emotion may even come into it…

Who’s done it well?

One of the most revered masters of personal-business blogging is former Silicon Valley CEO, now mentor, consultant and board member, Penny Herscher. While her blog, The Grassy Road: A CEO at Work and Play in Silicon Valley and Beyond has been put on the back burner for a while (she’s not a CEO anymore), she wrote some great stories while she was active, in a style that’s direct and humorous, with gravitas.

Richard Branson, not surprisingly, has been blogging successfully on the Virgin website for years, talking about anything from Virgin’s latest triumphs to his take on industry events, his efforts to do more pull-ups after a challenge from Will Smith and advice on delegating, where he admits he’s dyslexic.

In the wealth sphere, you’ve got people like The Reformed Broker, aka Joshua M Brown CEO of Ritholtz Wealth Management who has a strong voice, a brilliant writing style and who is just as confident talking about movement in the markets as employees having babies and a wedding his friend Barry went to in Israel.

Still not convinced? We’ve compiled 6 reasons CEOs of finance brand should commit to a personal-business blog:

1. Thought leadership platform & branding

Show you’re an expert in the field by dishing up valuable information and insights, articulating the vision of your business in the context of the wider industry, helping define your industry’s agenda. At the same time, you’re sharing your own unique perspective on the world.

You might even have your work picked up by a publisher, be asked to write for reputable magazines or be invited to speak at events – further building your personal brand.

By extension, if readers like and believe in the stories you’re telling and the way you tell them, it reflects well on your whole business and builds brand loyalty.

2. Authentic communication

The thing about personal blogs is that, in contrast with official press releases and heavily edited company-wide emails, they allow you to communicate more authentically with investors, employees, partners, even the wider industry. And it’s not just about the PR-style “aren’t we good” news, but being transparent with the updates – even the negative ones.

3. Putting a face to your business

There’s a reason for the expression “faceless corporation”. You can give your organisation a face and a personality through your blog, and help make your business more memorable, more trustworthy and more human.

4. Something to share socially

If your business is always scratching for something to say on Twitter or LinkedIn, blogs are the perfect content to promote.

5. Control how you're presented to the world

You can’t control what a reporter writes after interviewing you but you can control your own blog – the language, the personality and the message – what you represent. That’s why it’s called owned media! You also have a ready-made store of thought leadership material online that journalists can mine if they’re looking for research or quotes.

6. Showing your passion and humanity

In being able to talk about the things that inspire you and get you up in the morning, you’ll not only build brand loyalty and thought leadership, but also inspire your staff. And if you’re lucky, win them over to become true advocates of the business through your honesty and vulnerability.

BUT - even with all those persuasive arguments, there are some solid reasons why you might not make the best personal-business blogger. Here are 7 fairly fatal ones to mull over.

  1. You don’t have the time to do it yourself. You can’t outsource your opinion, it has to come from you or it won’t be authentic. You can then lean on your content team to help make sure you’ve articulated yourself accurately and without any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.
  2. You can’t commit for the long term. This isn’t something you can do erratically, or when you have a quiet month. You’ll need to be prepared to come up with consistent content ideas (with the help of your content people) and then knuckle down and write them.
  3. You’re not prepared to be vulnerable. If you’re not comfortable revealing yourself, your flaws, your past mistakes, your doubts, this kind of blogging is probably not for you.
  4. You’re not prepared to live up to the ideals you write about. We live in an increasingly transparent world and acts that go against your espoused values don’t stay secret for long.
  5. You can’t cope with negative comments. Sometimes people will use this platform to mouth off about you and/or your business. Yes, you can turn off comments but that kind of defeats the purpose. Embrace open discussions and own your opinions.
  6. The compliance risks might be too great. If every blog article has to go through a series of compliance checks that strip the writing of its personality and impact, maybe it’s not worth it.
  7. You want another platform for a heavy sales pitch. Just don’t.

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When Susan was a youngster she didn't know what she wanted to be, but somehow she fell into advertising; then digital was invented so she worked on websites for a while. From there it was a small leap over to TV producing, scriptwriting, promo writing, and some copywriting.... Then when content marketing became a 'thing', she somehow fell into that. It's worked out ok so far - luckily she's always landed on soft things.