Mainstream Awareness

In the last week or so it seems that every MSM (mainstream media) outlet is getting on the ‘Let’s talk about blogging" bandwagon. The most recent one I have seen is in today’s Financial Times, via Scoble. If the management of today’s big companies read this in earnest, maybe some of them will start to adjust their own  worldview (as defined by Seth Godin). A couple of my favorite quotes from the article:

Giving employees free rein to criticise their company’s own products or
to praise competitors is a big departure from the carefully constructed
messages of traditional brand management. But Ms Charman says companies
that insist on carrying the old ways of doing things into the
blogosphere are heading for trouble.

“Business is used to inhabiting a broadcast environment, and that is
not what the blogosphere is about,” she says. “Companies need to learn
that they can’t control the message any more, then they have to learn
that that’s good.”

And

Mr Jen argues that, used properly, blogging can help a company reach
out to its customers in powerful ways. “When you go to an individual’s
blog and read the content . . . people will actually take the
perception they get from an individual and project it on to the company
they work for,” he says. “That perception is often stronger than the
message that the company is trying to [get across].”

Such an
approach requires that companies place an immense amount of trust in
employees to act as capable ambassadors. Mr Jen says that companies may
have little choice. “You could say, ‘I’m not going to allow my
employees to blog,’ but any one of your employees can still go out and
start a blog anonymously,” Mr Jen says.

IMHO, there is a lot of world-shaking going on here and companies that choose not to see it are doing so at their own peril. It is not going to be easy:

For companies, the rising importance of blogging as a communications tool presents a difficult dilemma.

On
the one hand, avoiding the blogosphere altogether seems a bad idea.
Kryptonite, a maker of bicycle locks, was caught flat-footed last year
when an enterprising blogger discovered he could pick his expensive
Kryptonite lock with the end of a plastic pen. Kryptonite’s lack of a
significant blog of its own meant it had no efficient way to respond to
the original blogger’s claim. A video exposing the lock’s vulnerability
soon spread into the mainstream media.

On the other hand,
companies that wish to engage with the blogosphere face an intractable
credibility problem. Bloggers are an anti-establishment lot, and
messages from big business are automatically suspect. In bloggers’
eyes, most companies’ attempts to insert themselves into online
conversation come across as ham-fisted at best, and disingenuous at
worst.

Companies need to engage in the conversation now if they want to survive in a Cluetrain world.

[Editorial Comment: Labeling all bloggers as an "anti-establishment lot" is a bit of a broad-brush that I do not agree with. I think forcing the establishment to look at itself and re-evaluate its own existence is in fact pro-establishment. Too bad most of the MSM does not see this. If you haven’t read the Forbes article yet, you should.]

 

 

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