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Getting Back On Deck… Thoughts On Corporate Blogging

Haven’t been blogging much later – just very busy and on the road in Europe for a week with customers and partners.

Interesting pointer from Stowe to an interview by Paul Dunay with Jack Welch about corporate blogging. Jack’s advice? Be authentic.

[from Buzz Marketing for Technology: EXCLUSIVE: Jack Welch Discussing Web 2.0 by Paul Dunay]

Buzz Marketing: So what is your advice for companies adopting new Web 2.0 technologies like RSS, social networking, podcasting and videocasting?

Jack: Just be authentic. Be clear in your vision, and have one message and one view that are authentic. I worked somewhere once where they had different messages for employees, analysts and the press. There should be only one message for everyone, and fight like hell to get that message across everywhere you go.

I was asked some similar questions on corporate blogging (which I’ve always thought was a bit of an oxymoron).

  1. Is “ghost-blogging” a no-no: At the heart of any blog is authenticity and the writer’s voice. Ghost-writing runs against the very point of a blog which is to engage in a conversation with the community that surrounds you and your company. You can’t ghost a conversation…
  2. Is there a place for anonymous corporate blog posts (like the Economist?): No. It’s hard to have a conversation with an anonymous person. The intent of a blog is not to publish but to converse. I do see room though for participatory blogs where a diverse range of bloggers blog to a single site. I think this is practical for most companies and more interesting for the readers. The Economist is an anomaly in the publishing world.
  3. PR person says blogging is “reputation management”. Right or wrong? That PR Person doesn’t understand blogging or the blogosphere – they are contextualizing it through their own lens. And, they are taking a relatively hackneyed descriptor – reputation management – and applying it to a world in which it has little relevance. Various marketing niche’s have tried it with their thesis – brand managers are doing the same with “brand management”. You only have a reputation in the sense that others assign it to you. You earn it. Of course, it could be argued that everything a company does from a communications standpoint is “reputation management” – and that is the problem with the notion. You would hope that blogging would improve and not destroy your reputation right? But does that mean blogging is in fact reputation management in disguise – not at all.
  4. How about internal editing of blog posts? This is common. I encourage executives to keep others involved in their posts. They have legal and HR risks associated with every conversation so why not mediate some of that risk. What they do need to do though is time-bound others involvement and be clear on the kind of feedback they are looking for. Blog posts are like bananas – they bruise easily and are best served ripe. They need to let folks know they have but a couple of hours to respond – or a day. This shouldn’t be a highly iterative process that people take a week or so to get done. Too many companies treat the blog post like a press release – at least initially.
  5. Other tips: First, participatory media and platforms – from blogs to wikis and podcasts – represent one of the most significant opportunities available to companies to transform their relationship with customers. They represent one of the most significant transformational opportunities since the Internet. Don’t constrain your engagement. Drive it into every corner of your business. Many of the companies I’ve worked with have seen as much value internally as they have externally.

Second. Just do it. Get going internally and let it evolve. If you get it, get going. Don’t spend hours on consulting fees or hanging with PR people, web teams and lawyers. The technology is available as a utility. A blog can be created in minutes.

Third. The rewards significantly outweigh the risks. But the biggest rewards come not from writing blog posts but rather the comments and resulting dialogue. You shouldn’t look at this as a publishing mechanism but rather a “conversation machine”.

Other tips:

  • There are no corporate bloggers – there are just bloggers. Be real. Be authentic.
  • Blogging is a conversation. You need to move from transmitting to participating.
  • You don’t need a blog to be blogging. Start contributing to others blogs with comments and thoughts.
  • Never, never, never spin, lie or pour smoke into the blogosphere. Straight-talk will win you kudos.
  • Give it time. Don’t expect raving fans at day one. In fact, expect the opposite for a bit. The blogosphere is very critical and self-correcting. Take feedback and tune accordingly.
  • Have fun. This is a relatively informal medium. Revel in it.

Thoughts… Comments…

One Response

  1. By John Cass on March 2nd, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Much of what was said is correct. Not sure I agree that there are no corporate bloggers. Though I suppose if you write a personal blog and write about your company you might be careful about what you wrote about the company on both a personal or corporate blog.

    You can write what you want on your personal blog, except where your employment contract gives oversight and guidelines, and common sense dictates not posting information. For example if you work for a public company; posting future information might influence the company’s stock and your company might receive a call from the SEC.

    I do see the suggestion though that blogging is not about being corporate but open and willing to have a conversation. I think I just might disagree and hope that companies actually can be open and willing to have a conversation to be successful. After all if you put a banner down evangelizing companies to blog, you want them to do that as employees as much as citizens.

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