I subscribe to Harvard Business School Working Knowledge newsletter that basically gives free access to select HBS articles. This week, the first article in the weekly subscription email caught my eyes, nahin actually my eyes got glued to it. The caption of the article is “Does Your Company Belong in the Blogosphere?” Now if HBS is talking about blogging, it starts sounding pretty mainstream. The article can be read from:
It points out various corporate blogs like that of GM, Boeing and Sun among others. I quickly scanned these blogs and found the Sun blog a bit interesting. GM and Boeing blogs sound ‘corporatish’ at first glance, but then don’t take my words for it, scout around on your own. Though much of the article is about basic stuff like Technorati, RSS feeds and how blogs talk with each other, some sound advice given in the article (and I wish a few Indian companies will read it) is this and quoting from the article:
“A corporate blog allows a company both to keep an ear to the ground to hear what’s being said about it and, if necessary, speak up with a correction.”
“Don’t let the PR department write your blog. Bloggers will sniff it out, and when they do, you will lose all credibility,” says Weil. She points to GM’s Lutz as a senior executive whose writing style is genuine, conversational, and engaging, and whose blog—like the best executive-written blogs—eschews corporate-speak.”
I doubt if many companies would be able to do anything creative with their blogs if General Motors (GM) blog is any indicator. Recently GM has been in news for all the wrong reasons. I read a BBC news article that highlighted several problems:
“US carmaker General Motors is to cut 30,000 jobs in North America, in a restructuring that aims to save $2.5bn (£1.4bn) a year and revive the company …
To add to its woes, the firm warned earlier this month that it will have to restate its 2001 accounts after they were overstated by about $300m, while its accounts are also being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.”
Quoted from http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4457038.stm
If one looks at the corporate blog, there is not even a whiff of any such event and it doesn’t sound authentic. While I agree it is never going to be easy for a corporation to write about its financial mess, in not doing so, claims to authenticity and blogging are going to take a beating till the time blogs become completely mainstream and may that time never come.
In fact the same HBS article points to the following blog:
where following discussion seems very apt for GM
“Michael Wiley, GM’s Director of New Media and a member of the Fastlane blog team, left this comment on Dave Taylor’s Intuitive Life blog [scroll down to the third comment]:
“You’re right that blogging at GM is a balancing act of many different stories, stakeholders and approaches that constantly demands focus. We decided early on that the blog’s primary focus is on product, product development, vehicle design and quality. A vehicle company’s reason for existence is to sell cars, so the selling piece gets some attention, too. Corporate issues such as staffing levels [my edit: layoffs] and facility usage [er, factory shut-downs] are not the blog’s focus.”
Michael, I know you well. It’s OK to use the word layoffs, really.
On the other hand… I just thought of this.
Michael is savvy enough to know that someone doing a fine-tooth combed search for “GM” and “lay-offs” on Google just might unearth the comment he left on Dave Taylor’s blog. And I suspect he’d rather his words not come up in that search result. No dumb bunny, he.
Weird and woolly…”
To sum it up, is this synthetic transparency?
“A group of students in “Advanced Organizational Communication” at Northeastern University are penning a blog along with their professor and they’ve come up with a new way of describing a corporate blog:
Synthetic transparency involves using blogs to give the impression of openness, honesty, and transparency but without really doing so.”
Quoted from http://www.blogwriteforceos.com/
I agree with the students and their professor from Northeastern University.