Does the ‘CEO As LinkedIn Influencer’ Strategy Work?

Any PR firm working with a big business client today will advise that client’s public face to become, well, more public. This means going digital, either on social media or in corporate communications designed to get internal teams and investors excited. But what about going a step further and creating editorial content in the interest of becoming a digital thought leader/business strategist a la Richard Branson or Tony Hsieh? (It’s not enough to write a book anymore.)

We ask because, before today, we’d never heard of JetBlue Airways chairman Jeff Peterson. But now we don’t just know who he is—we know that he has some ideas about how to make his industry more efficient. You can see by the numbers that his LinkedIn post on “A Common Sense Solution to Slow Airline Boarding” has been quite successful.

That’s a lot of traffic, but there’s some disagreement among the audience on what, exactly, Mr. Peterson’s story is. Its purpose is to publicize the fact that JetBlue considered the efficiency problem and reached what they believed to be the best solution. So it’s a comment on business strategy—but is it also an advertisement? And does it build up the brand by positioning its chairman as a great strategist or reminding passengers that they don’t have to pay for the first bag they check on a JetBlue flight?