Why Health Industry CEOs Should Blog

blog computer keyI recently read an article in a local business trade about what makes a CEO trustworthy to investors. The author told the story of how a woman without financial savvy inherited a portfolio from her father and, in conjunction with a financial advisor, gave a thumbs up or down based on reading the chief executive’s letter to shareholders for each new investment. And you thought no one read those….

Not only are people taking notice of what company executives are saying, but they are also paying attention to those who are not saying anything, or those who speak using corporate jargon. A timely case in point for why to avoid jargon is the recent announcement by Anthem and Cigna regarding their pending merger:

“Together our companies would rapidly build on each other’s complementary strengths to create a diversified platform that could better capitalize on new opportunities and meaningfully deliver innovative, quality solutions to all of our stakeholders,” said Joseph Swedish, president and chief executive officer of Anthem.”

“Anthem expects the combination would be accretive to operating earnings per share and that the combined enterprise would generate significant annual cost synergies by achieving operating and G&A efficiencies…. Anthem is confident in the achievability of synergies and is committed to retaining investment grade debt ratings.”

Huh?

As healthcare consolidation continues….not just on the payor side, but also on the provider side, these new and larger organizations run the risk of losing their humanness, of losing their connection to their very people they are eager to attract, retain and turn into advocates. These days, a company’s brand image and that of its leaders is inextricably linked. Those health organizations taking the Oz approach –no communication from the CEO or offering up corporate jargon– are destined to experience lower morale and productivity and limit the power of their brand.

In this digital age, one of the smartest ways for CEOs to communicate –with internal and external stakeholders –is through a blog.  As “owned” content, a blog allows you to control what you say, how you say it and when you say it. Consider the following:bobble head

Here are five key drivers for a successful executive blog:

  1. Be authentic. Remember the woman who inherited her father’s portfolio?! People are not interested in corporate-speak or healthcare jargon –they prefer plain English. They also want to feel like they are hearing from a person, not a corporation. Relax and be conversational. Blogs are not the time to remember your high school English class or your grad school thesis. It’s okay to express your personality and your opinion. In fact, if you don’t allow that to come out, you’ve probably written a memo or a newsletter rather than a blog.
  2. Be insightful. You are a leader. Use your blog to express your leadership –to inspire your employees and pique the interest of your customers and potential customers. It’s your opportunity to pull back the curtain and let people see that there really is someone behind it. Whether giving them a more intimate peek into your organization, or waxing eloquent about the future, people want to know what you think is important, and they want to understand your perspective. Indulge them.
  3. Explain WHY. At my company, we’re all about the WHY, because WHY gets us to purpose, and that creates a powerful bridge for helping us connect our clients with their target audiences. In healthcare, a lot of time and money is spent telling people what we do and how well we do it. While some of that is necessary, consumers are interested in going beyond that to understand WHY you do what you do or WHY you decided to do what you did. People need context in order to trust you. They may not always agree with you, but that’s okay. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage your audience by sharing the WHY.
  4. Be transparent. Your readers are smart. They want someone who will tell them the truth, even if it is difficult to hear. Being transparent isn’t about giving away trade secrets or airing all your dirty laundry, but it is about including the lows with the highs and using the opportunity to demonstrate your leadership by instilling confidence in both cases. Refer back to #3 –it’s an important part of transparency. Remember, it’s less about convincing everyone to agree with you, and more about helping people understand your conviction.
  5. Be consistent. Clients often ask me how often they need to post to their blog. While there is no one answer for all organizations and industries; the key is to be consistent and frequent enough to establish a presence and build a relationship with your readers. Pick a day and time to post and do it –stick to it like you would an appointment at the White House. Your stakeholders want to hear from you. They will start to depend on it. Don’t disappoint them.

How did you convince your CEO to blog? Who are your favorite health industry bloggers? We’d like to know, so we can follow them too!

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