Welcome to the C-Suite, Jennifer Cisney! Cisney's appointment was announced by another beneficiary of C-level title inflation, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Chief Business Development Officer.
To Jenny's credit, she's a self-described blogging fanatic. So it makes perfect sense that she would be given a full-time job and a commensurate title. But "Chief Blogger"? This seems both over-the-top and off-the-mark.
First of all, blogging is by definition informal, so even if the company is taking it seriously, there's no need to imbue it with a formality it doesn't require. It's a bit like wearing a suit-and-tie to a softball game.
It also reeks of trying too hard. I know Kodak is still reeling from the implosion of the analog photo business and trying desperately to stay alive and re-invent itself in the digital age. But it's about the content, people, not the title inflation. No one's going to take Jenny more seriously because she has a "chief" title.
And the title does beg a few important questions: will Jenny be included in C-level meetings and strategy? Will blogging and social media have a "seat at the table" in strategy discussions going forward? Will Jenny be allowed to blog from closed-door Kodak executive meetings?
I guess my biggest problem with this title is that it implies that blogging, social media and online interactivity are a function that needs its own silo and chief, when in fact the opposite is true. For Kodak and any other company to really leverage the online/social media opportunity, it needs to integrate the function throughout its business, culture and strategy.
On a related note: I look forward to meeting Jenny next week when she comes to San Francisco to speak at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit 2008. She's speaking on Tuesday morning on a panel called "How to Make Your Corporate Blog Pay Off." I'll be busy as well: on Monday, I'm giving a workshop called "Teaching Your Execs to Love and Master the Media Interview" and moderating a panel called "Blogger Relations: Inside the Hearts and Minds of Top Online Pundits" featuring Craig Newmark of craigslist.org, Tom Foremski of SiliconValleyWatcher.com and Carolyn Pritchard of GigaOm.com. On Tuesday I'll host a breakfast roundtable on the subject of "Problems in Pitching the Media."