Friday, April 29, 2005

What sort of impact can blogging have in the real world?

What brought me to blogging was an article in the Harvard Business Review about the power of blogging. Actually, it was the case study in that issue (maybe September 2002 or so?) and it weighed the pros and cons from a business perspective. I tried bringing blogging to the Coast Guard's performance consulting corps, but didn't have much success.

Today, I stumbled across this piece, written from a tech perspective, about what PR folks could learn from bloggers.

Joe Brockmeier writes about Matthew Thomas' critical view of the new Ubuntu linux release. You likely don't give a rat's ass about Thomas' complaints about the user interface 'cause you're likely a Redmondist (most people, including my lovely wife, are), but if you shed the topic and look at the underlying issue, well, it opens up a whole new perspective.
But, what’s really interesting about this list of Thomas’ complaints with Ubuntu is that he actually works for Canonical, the company that sponsors Ubuntu, and has posted the piece with Mark Shuttleworth’s blessing. (Shuttleworth is the founder of Canonical, and a fairly interesting guy all-around.)
Imagine for a moment that one of Apple’s interface design folks sat down and whipped up a list of design "flaws" with Tiger, and went to the PR staff — or Steve Jobs himself — and said, "hey, I’d like to post this and get people talking about the things that are wrong with our product." Something tells me, it wouldn’t go over well. Most companies keep iron-fisted control over any "official" communications, and you wouldn’t want to get caught blogging in public by your employer. It’s almost amusing, sometimes, watching PR folks bend logic and the English language to the breaking point in a relentless effort to avoid saying anything that can even be slightly negative about a company or product. On the other hand, it can be a serious drag having to interview a PR flak who adheres to the company line like it’s the gospel truth.
I love it. The whole notion fits with my organizational transparency.

And Brockmeier isn't alone. Here's a post from Paul Krill, reporting from the Software 2005 conference in Santa Clara, CA (by the way, I'll be in Santa Clara starting this Sunday to attend the Coast Guard Innovation Expo):
Companies ought to encourage blogging, but having policies on blogging is advisable, according to a presentation at the Software 2005 conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Noting that vendors such as Sun Microsystems and Microsoft have embraced blogging, presenter David Sifry, founder and CEO of Technorati, said employees should not only be able to blog but that they should be autonomous and not subject to PR agency screening.
Sure. I can see the Coast Guard using blogging to critique SAR operations or airing our dirty laundry which is going to come out sooner or later. Right. As the Public Affairs Manual says, the Coast Guard is proactive when it comes to releasing news, and we release bad news promptly. Bad news does not improve with age. Well, that's the policy, anyway. See pages 1-2 and 1-3...

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