Make Room in the C-Suite for the "Chief Blogger"

Last Updated Apr 4, 2008 5:43 PM EDT

A bad idea whose time has come: Kodak has named a "Chief Blogger" whose job is to "provide daily oversight and creative guidance for Kodak's two blogs â€" 'A Thousand Words' and 'A Thousand Nerds' â€" and boost the company's social media presence. Cisney will serve as the company's eyes and ears online, listening to customer feedback and sharing ideas and tips related to Kodak's products and services."
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.

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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."

  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.