Here are my notes from the session. I'll be happy to respond with greater detail in the comments of this post if anyone is interested.
Note: I will come back and clean this up this evening and add the links to the sites mentioned.
- We’re being moderated by the woman who wrote the Corporate Blogging Book. I wish I’d brought my copy to get an autograph.
- Executing a corporate blog takes a lot of work. How to manage it, who to blog, how to deal with legal issues and so forth. Corporations are afraid of exposing themselves on blogs because they don’t want to face the criticism.
- Corporations are also afraid of losing control of the blog.
- Kodak blogger was present. She is an information designer and had been blogging for some time as a private person when she was chosen as the corporate blogger. The idea came out of the PR department. Their management chain agreed to it and they launched right away. They use an external host for their blog so they could focus on the content and not the system. They don’t do a CEO blog, instead they blog about the regular people who work for Kodak. It’s all about the stories of the photographers within the company. A Thousand Words is the name of their blog. It’s a big group effort.
- They have touching stories on their blog such as a new mother who saw her premature infant for the first time through a photo as she recovered from emergency surgery. It’s all about the stories represented by the photos.
- HP runs several blogs, from everyone like their LaserJet VP to folks in their R&D labs. HP provides the platform to their people and lets them blog. They have to deal with information distribution issues such as intellectual property and maintaining a positive image
- The blogger in chief of Cisco was here. Everyone in Cisco is challenged to use the web to extend the reach of the company. All of their bloggers are public policy experts in their fields. They need a PR person attached to each of their blogs who is ultimately responsible for the content and the conversations that go on in the comments. Cisco has an op-ed strategy overarching this effort. They aren’t heavy handed in the management of the content. Their CEO is active and vocal, but is not a typist. He’s not going to blog, but they tried to capture some of his speaking at conferences on video. That didn’t work too well, but they moved to doing a once a weekly vcast. These vcasts are scripted via a set of questions and it takes about 5 minutes to capture the vcast. It’s quick and painless and works very well. They embed these videos within their corporate blogs. They have about 15 external corporate blogs now. They ask bloggers to post at least twice a week.
- Bloggirl and blogboy from Southwest airlines spoke. Nuts about Southwest is the name of their blog. They had both done blogs before. There’s a theme in this. The corporate blogs are being written by people who have blogged on the outside before. Blogboy is an exception to this. He was a PR or marketing person first. Southwest values transparency within their organization and so the blogging was a natural fit. They have a team of 30 employees who blog from all areas of their company including mechanics, pilots and so forth. It is a major time commitment to keep this going. It gradually became a piece of their lives, but that adjustment was non-trivial. They’ve seen a big response in the media. They’ve discovered that their blog became an immediate focus group for their customers. Issues like assigned seating were addressed on the blog with a huge amount of feedback from their customers.
- Southwest discovered that sometimes the comments get personal and they’ve had to grow a thicker skin. They’ve used their blog to keep anti-Southwest publicity from getting out of hand. Their blog is moderated and managed to protect the corporate brand.
- Essentially, each of these corporations have picked management or marketing types that are responsible for the tone and the content of the blog. They keep the reins very loose and pretty much let things go as they will. They step in when the discussion becomes personal or abusive. Other than that, these blogs are all about giving a personal and human face to the company. Most of them mentioned how important it was to blog personal stories that represent the role the company has in society.
- All of these companies treat external bloggers as valued partners. They interact with them and give them heads up about things are coming up. The extra attention they give the private bloggers pays off in big ways. Bloggers are writing about them already, this gives them a chance to cooperate (not co-opt) private bloggers. Southwest has even exchanged links with the Delta Airlines blog.
- You have to have an inside evangelist to get this kind of thing going. Everyone is contributing to these efforts from their IT departments to their PR department to management to the bloggers themselves. HP is doing a significant push on internal blogs to use as a collaborative workspace.
- Blogging is not going to change your corporate culture, it’s going to expose it. If you have an unhappy or dysfunctional company, blogging isn’t going to change that, it’s going to reveal it to everyone else.
- Management was convinced when they saw how other companies were blogging, like GM.
- Southwest has not had to get their legal department involved much at all. It has yet to be a big problem.
- The ROI on their blogs has been the comments from the public and links from other blogs. They don’t worry that much about traffic counts. It’s all about the interaction. This is kind of the same argument that I’ve used trying to convince people at my work to blog. It’s not getting everyone to read your blog, it’s about getting the right people to read the blog.
- How do you get internal blogs going and change the culture? Cisco just made the tools available and did not ask individuals to blog. It’s not generational as much as it is personality-based. Some people are natural communicators and some people aren't.
If I can, I'll find links to other bloggers who attended this session and post them here.
Update: Rachel over at Fiat Lux blogged her session notes as well.
Update 2: Nancy over at RRW Consulting took great notes on this one and posted them on their blog.