Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Why is Corporate Blogging Important?

Looks like this is CK‘s week. She’s got her first blog post up on MarketingProfs, and has succeeded in hitting all the right notes! First off, Congratulations to CK for putting together a timely, well thought out, and extremely articulate post on where exactly companies are stumbling while trying to emulate the Scobles and Rubels.

The discussion she’s initiated has gotten a bevy of responses from corporate marketers who believe there’s far more to it than meets the eye. As I noted on one of my earlier posts, most well-intentioned corporate blogs die a sudden death (28% of US corporate blogs started over the past year are defunct right now) and companies STILL do not get corporate blogging as evinced by the recent Wal-Mart blogging debacle.

Here are CK’s 5 rules for Corporate Blogging that I’m sure we all agree with: Connect, Share, Be Honest, Make Friends, Be Honest (meaning apologize when wrong).

I’d just like to add my favorite 3 caveats to the practice of Corporate Blogging:

(i) Blog Responsibly

I believe the onus of preventing a blog from being attacked by frivolous lawsuits lies solely with the blogger. Brad K. opines:

Essentially, until you can keep lawyers, litigious competitors and fanatic activists from using blogged information, you haven’t gotten close to explaining why blogging is a good idea for all businesses.

Each blogger has a responsibility to blog accurately and without violating the non-confidentiality agreements that he/she is a part of, because you are answerable both to the organization that you work for, as well as to the prospect or customer who reads your blog. Here is what Jonathan Schwartz – who is trying to effect changes that will allow corporations to announce quarterly performance, or disclose a material transaction via blogs – has to say on the topic of responsible blogging:

And I’m used to holding my tongue on issues that’d be deemed material to Sun’s financial performance. Like a pending acquisition or big sale, or data related to how our quarter’s going. In a public company, there are very strict laws surrounding how information’s disclosed.

Here’s a potential solution for corporate blogs. Have a “Blogging Policy” that is to be widely distributed throughout the organization. Ensure that you have an honest conversation and regular meetings with all company bloggers, apprising them of the pitfalls of frivolous blogging. The fear of lawsuits alone is NOT sufficient reason for corporations to not blog since if you do not then your competitors or prospects or disgruntled customers WILL blog about you.

(ii) Let’s talk ROI

As for the larger question: “Why is blogging a good idea for all businesses?”, I know this is a complicated question, one that Scoble & Shel have attempted to answer many times in the past, and I’m going to repeat what they said — that blogging is as important as talking to you customers, receiving feedback from them, incorporating their suggestions to new products, etc… and makes it incredibly easy to facilitate that exchange and archive the thoughts. Lewis Green says:

Based on my experience, I wonder if corporate blogging can ever achieve the kind of authentic passion and openness that would engage employees and customers.

I, personally, do NOT know of any other communication tool that engenders the kind of “authentic passion and openness that engage employees and customers” more than a BLOG. Now having worked in the corporate side of things, I agree that WE DO need to create tools that measure the ROI of blogging and researchers like Charlene Li of Forrester are currently working on such a solution, as we blog.

(iii) Intangible Asset

Do not ask what blogging can do for you; but ask what you can do with blogging. The fact that there are very few blogs out there, represents an enormous opportunity for a company to position themself as a thought-leader in their respective field.

Examples: (i) Edelman PR is now considered an expert in the field of corporate blogging, so when a prospective corporation is scouting for PR talent who do you think they’ll first turn to. Now this could lead to a $ million deal but unfortunately blogging will not get its due since the credit would go to the sales team that closed the deal. (ii) If I were thinking of data storage systems, I’d definitely turn to my friend and blog evangelist Jeremiah (from HDS) with my questions and I know I’ll have an answer rightaway.

From a business development perspective, I can tell you that blogging is one of the best sources to evangelize and thereby generate warm leads. Moreover, blogging will speak to your core target audience or prospective customer base more effectively since the readers of blogs are already actively researching for information (Pull vs. Push)

In my opinion, the benefits offered by corporate blogging far outweigh the pitfalls that is common with any ascendant technology or tool.

Companies like Adobe, Dell, and Wal-Mart are getting into the blogosphere because its imperative for their competitive advantage. CK’s post is a reminder for corporate marketers to do things right and to also blog for the right purposes. Blogging is inescapable for corporations and with a renewed focus on figuring out the ROI of blogging, corporate marketers can soon start blogging without fear and with a reason.

I’d really love to hear what bloggers like Debbie Weil (Author of the Corporate Blogging Book) and my good friend Easton Ellsworth have to think of the issues raised by CK’s post.

Filed under: Business Blogging

17 Responses

  1. annhandley says:

    “Do not ask what blogging can do for you; but ask what you can do with blogging. The fact that there are very few blogs out there, represents an enormous opportunity for a company to position themself as a thought-leader in their respective field.”

    Well put, Mario. A huge intangible, indeed.

    David Armano talked about similar issues at his “blog’s eye view” event in Boston yesterday. I blogged about it on the Daily Fix, as did Forrester’s Peter Kim & Maura Welch of the Boston Globe.

    Anyway — nice fleshing out of CK’s post!

    Like

  2. Gavin Heaton says:

    Hi Mario … I agree with your sentiments. There are significant advantages to blogging — some are internal, and other external. It is still very early days and we are all still learning, but instinctively I have a sense that blogging can invigorate corporate spirit (within the organisation) and activate the brand (outside).

    The challenge of activating both sides of this require breaking down some barriers. Sure there are issues with corporate governance and policy, but they can all be overcome with some gentle activation and small steps.

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  3. CK says:

    Oh my blogging sake brother, you are too kind. Thank you for not only being supportive and insightful…but for hitting the post home!

    You and Gavin are perfectly correct about breaking barriers and blogging responsibly. There’s a comment I made to one of Mack’s posts earlier this week in which I said something along the lines of: these disruptive technologies are tough and the revolution is messy–but ain’t we fortunate to be at the forefront of it?

    There’s a lot to work out and a lot more advocates to build, but what an exciting time to be a marketer, eh?

    2 comments I really love:
    Mario’s “Do not ask what blogging can do for you; but ask what you can do with blogging.” I think there’s a whole post in that statement alone (if not a book).

    Gavin’s “It is still very early days and we are all still learning, but instinctively I have a sense that blogging can invigorate corporate spirit (within the organisation) and activate the brand (outside).”

    Well said, gentlemen :-).

    Like

  4. Brian says:

    Nice post and summary of the latest corporate blogging conversation across the web. I think the following paragraph is very insightful:

    Companies like Adobe, Dell, and Wal-Mart are getting into the blogosphere because its imperative for their competitive advantage. CK’s post is a reminder for corporate marketers to do things right and to also blog for the right purposes. Blogging is inescapable for corporations and with a renewed focus on figuring out the ROI of blogging, corporate marketers can soon start blogging without fear and with a reason.

    I think the train has left the station on this one and this trend is inescapable, yet in its infancy. In fact, I do dispute one statement. I think that three categories of corporate bloggers exist: (1) ones that are in it for competitive advantage, and (2) ones that are aware of the trend and are experimenting to figure out if/where the value may be, and (3) those in between.

    I categorize them as follows:
    (1) those that currently “get it”: Sun, Microsoft, Adobe/Macromedia, Southwest
    (2) those experimenting: Dell, Wal-Mart, Intuit, Verizon(?)
    (3) in between: GM, Wells Fargo

    More exist in each category I’m sure (or at least in the last two), but I am curious as to what people think about this breakdown.

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  5. Mario Sundar says:

    Ann,
    I read the post and saw the pics of David’s event. Nice to see fellow bloggers meet in person. And Ck’s everywhere. Congrats on welcoming her to DF…She’s a great addition to the team.

    CK,
    Your second post on DF is Awesome too!

    Gavin,
    I agree. Most importantly, it also adds credibility to the brand by showing your users that you are listening — one of the key criteria for an effective relationship.

    Thanks for your comments, All!
    Mario

    Like

  6. Mario Sundar says:

    Brian,

    I don’t know if I’d agree with the categorization. For one, I don’t understand the need for the third category.

    I agree that blogging may be more utilitarian for some companies vs. others. But in my opinion, there are basically only two kinds of companies: Those that get blogging and those that don’t.

    And I believe very soon, 100% of corporations will need to get a blog. It is the “PR + Competition” imperative — to save yourself from bad-mouthing peers and competitors if not for just plain evangelizing.

    What do you think?
    Mario

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  7. Mario, good write-up. I’ll try to get a better handle on all this and post a response!

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  8. Mario Sundar says:

    Thanks, E. Let me know what you think.

    Congratulations on your Wikipedia project. I’ve gotta contribute to it soon. Just been swamped.

    Mario

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  9. Great points all around. As I’ve delved into Fortune 500 company blogs, I’ve noticed something that could be avoided if companies followed another blogging rule: Be diligent. A blog needs regular updating in order to thrive. I’ve seen too many blogs by big corporations that look anemic and frail due to corporate negligence.

    Your corporate blog is a plant that needs water, soil and sunshine every day. It’s not a pretty rock that you can set out on your corporate porch and dust off once in a while. Not if you want people to consistently notice and care about it.

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  10. Mario Sundar says:

    That’s a great point, Easton!

    I couldn’t agree more with you. I believe that the proof of the pudding lies in a company’s commitment to feedback and comments from the community of readers who populate that blog.

    Mario

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  11. [...] If you still don’t believe in corporate blogging, here is my spiel. [...]

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  12. Speedlinking: Over 50 Random Excellent Posts on Blogging

    I really wish I had time to write about all these articles about blogging.  They were worthy enough to merit being bookmarked or clipped when hundreds of others fell by the wayside.  I’ll put ‘em out a few at a…

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  13. Mario Sundar says:

    Thanks, Easton, for linking to this post.

    I’m glad you’re a part of the conversation.
    Mario

    Like

  14. [...] Mario Sundar – Why is Corporate Blogging Important?, October 17, 2006 Selected Quote: From a business development perspective, I can tell you that [...]

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  15. You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view

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  16. [...] Why is Corporate Blogging Important? – Oct [...]

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