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September 8, 2009 at 10:10 am #79840
Interesting post from the Internet Evolution, although directed PRIMARILY at the private sector, I believe has at least some relevance to the public sector.
(If this has some interest to you make sure that you visit the blog posting because there are a significant number of links included in the article which provide a wealth of additional information.)
Title: Corporate Weblogs: No Guts, No Glory
Alan Reiter, President, Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing
Corporate Weblogs have been published for years, but too many are sorry efforts with the life sucked out of them by overly cautious PR flacks and scared-rabbit marketers. Corporations that want to create great Weblogs need guts to break free of traditional thinking. Here are a few tips:
Don't focus on republishing press releases
Few mistakes of corporate Weblogging are worse than using Weblogs as merely another repository for press releases. But it's not necessary to completely eliminate press releases. There are two "tricks," though.
The first trick is to publish only part of the release, and link the other section on your site with the complete document. The second, more important trick, is to add value by highlighting why the release is important and including relevant information that isn't in it.
Personalize and emotionalize
One of the major values of corporate Weblogs is showcasing the "human" aspects of companies. Use the Weblog to show your company has intelligent, caring people. Don't be afraid to include personal aspects, but make sure they are relevant. Discuss how you, co-workers, family, and friends use and like or dislike products and services.
If you're flying to an industry conference and speak on the plane to someone who says something interesting, blog it. Help the reader "experience" the conversation by adding personal observations.
Employ macro and micro thinking.
Brilliant people think on multiple levels, from the micro (their own business) to the macro (business worldwide). Examine big ideas touching on all aspects of your industry, not just your company.
Many corporate advertising and marketing professionals, as well as C-level executives, cringe at the idea of writing about competitors, except, perhaps, negatively. Great Weblogs discuss great ideas, and those ideas come from more than just your enterprise.
If you want your corporation to be considered a thought leader, write about other movers and shakers in your business. I don't agree with the idea of never saying anything bad about other companies. I believe in being intelligent and thoughtful when discussing competitors. If you dislike a product, at least consider writing about it and, not coincidentally, discussing why you think your product is better (assuming it is!).
Many corporate executives loathe the idea of writing about their mistakes. But a well-reasoned post that details mistakes and explains what your company is doing to fix them can be tremendously valuable for customers. Unlike an "official" announcement, a blog post can hit on an emotional level.
Include lots of appropriate photos, charts, podcasts, and videos, including interviews with corporate executives, thought leaders, and customers. Solicit ideas via social networking; I used Twitter (thanks @irabrodsky and @sohear) before writing this post.
Understand editing and formatting
Find someone who knows how to write well, and get him/her to write the blog or, at least, read it before items are posted. Avoid a typographical "circus" where sentences are crammed with italics, boldface, upper case, trademark and registration marks, ellipses, and hyphens. It's very hard to read.
Also, a pet peeve: Avoid using the "cool" diction that infects too many tech blogs. I'm talking about "peeps," "perps," "props," and other bird-like illiteracies.
Certainly there are risks to corporate blogging, but the numerous advantages outweigh the disadvantages. I'm sometimes more "liberal" about pushing the limits, but check out some of the better enterprise services blogs from Amazon Web Services, Dell, English Cut, GM, Marriott, Quicken Loans, Seagate, Sun Microsystems (including the president/CEO), 37signals, and Zillow.
After all these suggestions, don't blog unless your corporate "DNA" is conducive to it. If your culture is too secretive, forget it.
[Disclosure, of sorts: I've previously created and consulted on a few corporation/association Weblogs as part of my consulting business. It's always possible I might be involved in similar Weblogs in the future.]
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