Is this a solution in search of a problem?
An organization called the Blog Council was launched this week. According to its website, its mission is to help corporate blogging efforts become more successful.
The founding members, 12 well-known companies, say that the corporate blogging community has been under-served, so the Blog Council wants to change that. How? Through creating “best practices, community, ROI, and advocacy,” they say.
The members are listed as “major corporations and brands, the key officials responsible for their company’s official blog presence, and the entire blog team — bloggers, management, marketing, legal, etc.”
The Council bills itself as a forum for executives to meet one another in a private, vendor-free environment and share tactics, offer advice based on past experience, and develop standards-based best practices as a model for other corporate blogs.
According to its press release, the Council CEO Andy Semovitz says major corporations blog differently from individual and small-business bloggers and face different issues. That means group members need to deliver a responsible and effective corporate message in the complicated blogosphere, speaking for the corporation without sounding “corporate”, and learning to do it live and in real time.
Let’s see: the Council says it brings together “key officials responsible for their company’s official blog presence.” What precisely is an “official blog presence?” These officials are listed as bloggers, management, marketing, legal, etc. Yep, that sure is different from an individual blogger like me for several reasons:
- I am the blogger, and the only blogger, responsible for More With Les.
- I am management, too, I guess, by default. Such as it is, I manage my blog.
- There is no marketing. I do not do this to market anything. To paraphrase Descartes, “I blog, therefore, I am.”
- Legal? The last thing I’d want to do is involve my $600/hour legal counsel, Dewey Stickem & Howe, in this.
The Council’s wording of its raison d’etre troubles me. Maybe I just don’t get it, but I believe blogging should be as Scoble and Israel (2006) say in Naked Conversations, that “bloggers just talk to each other. They make grammatical errors. They bop from one topic to another and back again. They interrupt each other to ask questions, make suggestions, challenge arguments. These conversations build trust. One blog pioneer, Dave Winer, calls it, ‘come-as-you-are conversations’ and says he enjoys seeing an occasional typo because it reveals authenticity, showing you are reading the unfiltered work of a real person” (pp.3-4).
The Blog Council says its advocacy role functions as a collective voice in support of responsible, ethics-based corporate blogs. That sounds entirely reasonable, but how will this manifest into reality? How will it affect the individual bloggers who I assume are part of the “official blog presence” along with legal and marketing? So much for Winer’s unfiltered work of a real person.
I completely understand the desire to perform more professionally, for example, that is why IABC and PRSA thrive. But this is the blogosphere. Neville Hobson said in Naked Converasations “if an organization isn’t already in a place where openness and transparency in communication exits and is practiced, then using tools like blogs will be unlikely to do anything positive for that organization.”
Am I off on this? It seems to me that this effort approaches regulation and bureaucracy. Why not just rely on controlled and very un-spontaneous and highly filtered “corporate speak” and be done with it? Or, blog and let blog.