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Corporate Blogging Strategy November 13, 2006

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in News.
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Companies are scared about the wrong things when it comes to blogging in the workplace. Dan Gilmour, writing in CIO Insight, says the real danger is not letting employees harness the full power of an interactive communications medium. If reins are kept too tight, companies won’t reap the benefits of informed and passionate readers and users.

The kinds of things most likely to happen with staff blogs and other “conversational” media are pretty benign. Yet corporate lawyers are growing more worried over staff blogs. The rules of the road run the gamut, from “Don’t even think about it,” to a simple “Don’t embarrass us,” to detailed written policies.

The type of industry makes a difference to what rules are laid down. Microsoft champions staff blogs and follows the middle rule, trusting company employees to get it right. Most companies however, spend too much time worrying about unfiltered comments getting out. They should be more concerned with what happens when lawyers, executives and PR folks get the notion that blogs are a new way to manipulate information. Writes Gilmour:

Consider, for example, a hypothetical CEO blog. It’s written by marketing people, vetted by lawyers, and lacks any and all human voice. In other words, it’s a press release. Is there a less effective way to communicate? At least a press release doesn’t pretend to be anything more than it is.

Companies should be embracing conversations with stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, local communities, investors and the media. They should be listening and speaking through blogs in a human way. A company with a blogging strategy that engages in multiple conversations with stakeholders will be better off when problems hit.

Conversation engender trust. Blog conversation is about culture. The complexities in a world of conversational communications don’t justify retreat but caution.

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