Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Giving my boss a make over

I have mentioned before that my boss, Phil Kerr, has a blog.

A CEO's blog
Phil started his blog a few months ago as another way to communicate with staff of Otago Polytechnic. But he has been a little disappointed to find that staff have not engaged with it in the way he anticipated.

Essentially, what Phil does in his blog is re-produce an email newsletter that he sends out on the institutional email system. But I have maintained that there is more to blogging than this and have urged Phil to use it to communicate in a more personal way with staff.

How to blog in an hour
I am very excited to have a boss who blogs. I don't have anything to do with Phil on an every day basis, so this is one way that he can become more accessible to me. So I have volunteered to spend some time with Phil, looking at how we can improve his blog to encourage more two-way interaction.

I have got one hour tomorrow to work with Phil and give his blog a makeover.

What do you think?
Have a look at Phil's blog. What would you suggest would give the blog a better appearance? What advice do you think I could give Phil about blogging, keeping in mind I only have an hour with him? Also, keeping in mind that Phil is a very busy man who won't have time to write blog posts every five minutes, what do you think should be a priority for his blog?

Image: 'Dressing Room Only' Ayres no graces


Sarah Stewart said...

From Skype:
I don't think he should just post his news letters. I think instead he could write a few wee words inviting comments which he wants and refer people to the newsletter.

From Twitter:
What is Phil's fav mode of communication? Talking or writing? Perhaps an audio blog? Tell him blogging less formal than email.

I'd also tell him to dice the photo of himself in the suit. Go with something more casual.Keep official announcements off.

A whole new photo. That one is far too big. Or crop it down. Needs to get someone to feed him stories/photos of other peeps.

Dot said...

It depends what he thinks the blog is for. So far it's a way of spreading information. It's no wonder people don't respond because this isn't the kind of thing that invites conversation - one absorbs the message and moves on. But it could save sending out lots of emails, if people know to check the blog for information of this kind.

If he wants to keep the blog on essentially its present themes, then he could add some specific questions asking for people's responses. The item about parking arrangements was a move in that direction because he asked people to contact him if they were interested in particular forms of parking.

But he could alter the orientation of the blog, if he wants more engagement. Perhaps he could choose a theme each week from the department's work - something he wants to highlight, an achievement or plan? It would need to be something he would have been thinking about anyway, so that it doesn't just become an exercise in making work for himself.

I agree about the picture! But one shouldn't go too far in the other direction in a work blog that (at present) is accessible to people outside the university. In fact, if this blog is used to promote online consultation about pratices in your department it should possibly be made secure in some way.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks a lot for that, Dot - all extremely useful feedback.

Anonymous said...

my god that is the most boring blog i have ever seen! He needs something personal in there, where is Phil? Would be great to have some reflections, encourage dialogue etc. Presumably staff can read the newsletter and memo's so why re create them in a blog? Give them something else. Also loose the sun glasses!

Sarah Stewart said...

From Leo (http://leolaoshi.yo2.cn)

I do feel jealous that you have a CEO is blogging now ,

give you some ideas here in China ,

I do see actually some of edublogger who are also boss of schools started blogging , the blog they are blogging give me a feeling of Non-blog feeling . honestly to say , but they receieve a lot of comments , like this one Suzhou Mayor 's blog http://zyx.eduol.cn/index.html ( the blogger is the Mayoer of Suzhou where I live ) his blog is very famous and also a very good blog to read , very true and honest many times , and he used the blog to make him more personal and accessible I guess .

I feel like they are doing this not for the sake of blogging , like my students blog it for my assighment last year ( I use http://haokanbu.com ) a micro blogging service in China

so I think maybe mirco blog or photo blog can solve part of problems , coz it is more informal and does not give you time to think , but many of my students stopped blogging after they handed in their assignment to me , I guess , you canot become TOO serious abt blogging otherwise you will lose the motivation to blog :)

but it was applying my situation , I don't know if this helps ?


Sarah Stewart said...

Two web sites from Twitter network: Comments about CEOs blogging.
Beware the CEO blogging by Seth Godwin and Top 10 CEO blogs by Mario Sundar.

Sarah Stewart said...

Suggestions from email discussion group:

This IS exciting Sarah.. I know he wants to understand how it all works.. but he's not that great with computers I suspect. Actually, I think it is his PA that updates that blog...

...we need the real Phil on his blog. We want him to be the CEO blogger that people go to from all over the world. And I think he could be that blogger - if only he put himself out there. Once people start reading him, it will boost his confidence in what he does, which will make up for the daily blows he gets locally.

I know he keeps a note book (pages and pages actually) of thoughts and ideas. See if you can get him to show you that, and then see if you can get him to digitize it ;)

The Banner image.. has to go :(

Think there are some great ideas here - also I guess Sarah that Phil could become the 'you can't be a prophet in your own land' in that more people outside of OP may read his blog than inside????

Can you encourage him to link his blog to others... also totally agree to showing the personal face. Get him to add his blog to his signature - may get others going there and advertise it in the fortnightly updates???????? I'd certainly 'market' his blog on mine if it was more interactive!

A tiny snippet of personal Phil would be more interesting than a revisit of official what-you-need-to-know this week Phil.

I suggest we can also lead by example. The bother is there is possibly nothing we could do to get Phil to follow by example without his visiting view the staffs dynamic digital personal spaces called blogs.

Lisa Barrett said...

Hi Sarah, You have your work cut out.

At first glance I though it was a resovoir Dogs fansite.

My suggestions are:

Use a smaller photo.
Don't obscure the blog's title with the photo.
Make it a bit more personal, add a profile perhaps.
Rather than simply pasting newsletters on to the blog, separate each section in to smaller, more digestable posts (perhaps some of the contentent could be omitted).
Put the site navigation in the sidebar. This would also reduce the over wide page width.
Categorise the posts with labels so readers can easily find the stuff they're interested in.

Anonymous said...

its totally irrelevant really but i love the suit and think his pose is relaxed and kind of cool. I think the photo goes a little low though. He looks friendly here - I approve of the shades - wonder if that photo was taken in dunners?
As for the text - i agree it should not just be a replay of his staff email notices - it isn't at all interactive - which blogs seem to be. Its more like just those business as usual type instructions. it does feel like his PA does the posting. In which case is it really her blog?
Phils PA's blog ? even then it just doesn't read like a blog.
Don't think phil has found his groove with blogging yet.
Have to say not sure what the objective of him having a blog is and I think thats where you two need to start. What is your purpose?
?Is it to pass on details (currently it does do that).
Is it to engage us in dialogue about institutional policies, ideas, plans, initiatives, education issues, politics of education?
And does our CEO really have time to do such an undertaking justice?
I think he needs to start with an aim - identify that forst. make the aim small enough to be achievable within a realistic time frame - so he isn't spending more time engaging on being a successful blogger than doing the core work of a CEO.
There is never any point in blogging just for bloggings sake so lets get the purpose establisghed.

Anonymous said...


Sarah Stewart said...

Thank you all for your ideas and advice. I had a great chat with Phil - see the post after this: http://sarah-stewart.blogspot.com/2008/08/blogging-ceo.html

Phil has promised to start a new blog which will have a much more personal feel. Am looking forward to seeing how he gets on!

infomidwife said...

Are you sure an hour will be long enough Sarah. Certainly needs a personal touch, smaller picture, nice suite however need to see his eyes. There seems to be too many facts, maybe headings with pictures might catch your eye, mix it up a bit, maybe a comic strip to lighten it. Can't wait to see the makeover. Good luck.