Lenn Pryor at Microsoft and Matthew Oliphant from Business Logs are talking about Corporate Blogging: Strategy and Policy at the Blog Business Summit. The following are my notes from their presentation and the ensuing discussion:
Why should a company allow blogging?
- You can't afford not to have a dialogue with your customers
- ride the Cluetrain
- markets are conversations
- internet has sped up the pace of conversation
- conversation is happening with or without you
- product and customer service agility
- living feedback loop
- humanization of your company
- react to good news, react to bad news
A corporate blog is about change management and risk management. More openness and more interaction with your customers means change (to the corporate culture and the way you do things) and risk. The company has to be prepared to be an adult; to take criticism and feedback. You're going to take some lumps. But it's like AA, admitting that you're an addict. Corporate leadership needs to admit that the conversation needs to happen in order to grow and improve.
Corporate blogging is not about installing a platform and pressing Go. It takes a change in most aspects of the organization.
Lenn presents the basic guidelines for Microsoft bloggers:
- Be smart.
- Respect existing confidedntiality agreements
- Don't break news, don't disclose confidential info
- be cautious with 3rd party info
- Respect prior employers
- Identify yourself
- Be cautious in how you offer support and advice. If you're wrong, the company can be held legally liable for damages.
- Speak for yourself
- Think about reactions before you hit 'post.' Think about how the post would look on the front page of a national newspaper.
Don't make laundry lists of rules, because it gets too confusing. There's no official "policy" on blogging at Microsoft. Don't be overly prescriptive; let your employees be adults. There's a level of trust that must take place.
Use blogging as a tool for project management. It's a good thing to start internally, because there's greater leeway in what you can do. Behind the firewall you've got greater acceptance for risk and failure.
- Blogging supports Reputation, one of the three pillars of a company (the other two being Financial and Operational).
- Find a leader who can champion blogging and who reflects the values of the company.
- Passion sells, both internally and externally.
- The voice of your bloggers become part of your brand. Let them use their own voice for it will sound more real and honest.
- The goal is to build relationships and communicate the values of the company. Customers want to know the people behind the company. That's why you shouldn't outsource blogging.
- However, it's quite valid to hire blog consultants to coach your team, write posts for a period of time and then transition out.
- Customers are supportive of companies that have a great deal of transparency, and opening up the inner workings of your company is a way to build trust, support and forgiveness.
- Good bloggers can come from the lowest rungs of the customer support team, all the way up to the executive level.
- Start an internal blog or wiki to preview topics and discuss why these topics should or should not be shared on the public blog.
- Reward good bloggers at paycheck time, if they're effective evangelists for your company.
- Everyone neeeds to know your company's guidelines for speaking about company topics in public. If an employee gets fired for blogging without consenting to the blogging policy, they have the right to sue for their salary.
Oooh, good last question from the audience: Since Scoble doesn't blog on company time, would it be ok for him to accept money from a "tip jar?" Lenn hesitates, and... sorry, we're out of time. Really good issue that needs to be addressed, because it makes a lot of sense.