Browsing the Financial Times website earlier this week, I came across a Business Life feature, How far should CEOs engage with the media?. Among the individuals responding was Steve Martin, CEO of UK construction group, Clugston (already notable for his role in the Channel 4’s Undercover Boss earlier this summer – see his diary on the Clugston website).
Asked ‘Should business leaders be vocal in pressing their case via the airwaves and newsprint or should they avoid the potentially negative exposure altogether?‘, his final comments show an awareness of the growing power of social media:
… My experience has convinced me that company leaders must take a few risks to engage with the public via the media to give a business perspective that is not solely based on The Apprentice or Dragons’ Den. If business leaders don’t engage directly with the public, someone else will. With the growth of social media, “citizen journalists” could be blogging and tweeting about your business. Surely it’s better to find a way of communicating directly with the public yourself?
Steve clearly gained from his Undercover Boss experience (see What I’ve Learnt, and this YouTube video produced by Melcrum), much of it focused on internal communications. Many of his site-based workers will not be consumers of blogs, Twitter or other social media – one change was to discontinue a glossy newsletter that was largely ignored. But in communication with other audiences (clients, subcontractors, suppliers, etc, as well as the media), it would be interesting to know whether he (or someone else in Clugston) has actually embraced blogging or tweeting to talk about the business and so fill that communication vacuum (remember I wrote about the challenge of getting enough senior executives engaged with social tools earlier this week?).