Friday, February 25, 2005

Corporate Blogging an Oxymoron?

Doc Searls et al.'s idea of markets as conversations seems very much in line with today's public relations theory, which favors two-way communication and dialogue. I see blogs as a great place to test these theories -- Botan & Taylor call them "co-creational" approaches to public relations.

I had the chance to hear Searls speak here at UNC last semester, and I tend to agree with Scoble that "If Doc Searls says it or writes it, believe it." Well, almost. The social scientist in me might modfiy that a little to "If Doc Searls says it or writes it, hypothesize it."

Doc Searls yesterday (2/24/05) on corporate blogging:
  • "'Corporate blogging" is so ironic it's nearly an oxymoron. Having a "a system in place to monitor what is being said" seems more consistent with ending a conversation than with starting one.... Blogging is personal. The voices you hear in blogs are personal ones, not corporate ones, even when they serve corporate purposes.Yet companies have character too, just as individuals do. The difference is that companies themselves cannot speak.

I see this as an interesting problem for public relations.

The article Searls cites, "CORPORATE BLOG - PR OPPORTUNITY OR PR NIGHTMARE?," concludes:
  • "Although there is some trepidation about the danger of starting a corporate blog, the positive results far outweigh the problems. Companies should take the plunge and start the conversation. Just be aware of the pitfalls and make sure you have all your bases covered."

So just what are these "positive results"?


Martin said...

Hello Dr. K. Exactly what type of corporate oversight is involved? At least a "corporate blog" would be more transparent (readers somewhat realize social forces acting on the blogger) than other models like Word of Mouth Marketing. Blog looks good!

Tom Kelleher said...

Yeah, I guess it's a matter of degree. Supervised blogs are probably better than no blogs at all. I wouldn't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. (Isn't that a creepy adage?)

Getting at what makes one blog "better" than another, or better than no blog at all, is the issue I'm wrestling with. From a public relations standpoint, better means leading to better relationships... I plan to write more on that later.

Thanks for being the first visitor!

Mary said...

I agree with the comments above. I think that the main purpose of blogs is to let your readers know exactly what is happening, be it written in a slight personal manner. And being personal about it means you also let people know the real you. In addition, being honest about it will likely help you on your campaigns than being an all-that corporate person. This is also true on public relations. Being open-minded and true is better than remaining shut on things. Yes, there are risks involved on this, but that is how things work. There is no perfect solution on everything; you just have to choose one that is more advantageous.


Erica K said...

Positive results can come in the form of simply getting in front of your employees (or at least their computers) in a way that is both personal and informal. It can be a forum for important discussion that otherwise, especially with execs' busy schedules, could not be replicated in any other way.

I definitely don't think that a blog for every company or every CEO makes sense. At all. But I do think that with the right personality and style, a CEO or company can really hone in on problem-solving within the organization or simply promote their image with a blog. But it has to be genuine, and that's where the challenge lies.