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What CFOs should say when the CEO tweets

Roy Harris | Jan. 31, 2012
It's likely not a problem you have in trying to maintain a reasonable investor-relations presence for your company -- yet.

It's likely not a problem you have in trying to maintain a reasonable investor-relations presence for your company -- yet.

But CEOs who just can't keep their thumbs quiet, and choose to opine via Twitter about government regulation, about the political views of the people the company pays, and about whatever else suits the chief executive fancy? With the rise of new generations of great communicators in corporate life, it's a coming issue, for sure.

New York Times media columnist David Carr weighs in with his thoughts on News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch, and his fascination with entering various debates on matters where corporations usually take more fair-and-balanced --- and often tepid --- positions.

The man whose company runs The Wall Street Journal has been blasting his 140 characters at New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ("How will chicken Cuomo respond?" to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's state of the city address, which Murdoch liked.) And he's taken shots at movies stars --- many of whom work for News Corp.'s Fox unit. ("On SOPA, where are all the big film stars with so many millions to lose?") Is the world asking for a corporate apology about something? Here's one from News Corp., though with an editorial twist. ("No excuses for phone hacking. No argument. No excuses either for copyright stealing, but plent of ignoratn argument!")

While few pure corporate matters seem to be among his Tweet topics, it's easy to imaging a rogue CEO waking up and shooting off a comment on an upcoming earnings report, or on some new product where discussion could be outside the bounds suggested by finance, or by the corporate counsel. It's coming, as CEOs get younger, and more facile with their thumbs.

Interesting that this early wave of discussion comes at the hands of an 80-year-old media titan. But if the Times columnist paints a colorful picture of potential trouble, his description of how employees relate to Murdoch suggest why that trouble could be fatal. "Who is going to tell him," Carr asks, "that expressing his views on Twitter is not a good idea?"

Well, News Corp.'s finance chief is David DeVoe.

 

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