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To Blog or Not to Blog

That Is the Question? By G.A. "Andy" Marken
The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.

-- Edward R. Murrow

Viral marketing, IM, SMS and blogging are just a few of the new avenues emerging for our globally, constantly-connected world.  Rather than management seeing our avenues of reaching our various stakeholders as shrinking, the routes are actually being expanded.  CEOs and senior managers have to understand what they are, the strengths and weaknesses of each and how you can leverage them best.
 
If not, you could be the friend of Hawkeye's in one of the M.A.S.H. shows who was critically wounded.  He looked up and said, "I didn't hear the one that hit me."
 
The first three we mentioned are relatively easy to understand.  If you aren't familiar with them then go to google.com or yahoo.com, type them in and review widely available information.
 
The final avenue - blogging, weblogs or simply blogs - is more difficult to understand and not without its share of risks.  It is also one that provides management what they need in today's world - a fast, effective and economic means of carrying out two-way communications with a firm's many audiences.  Blogs also represent a long-term commitment to reaching out to educate, inform, influence and obtain inputs/feedback directly from your market.
 
It is also a concept and means of communications that won't go away.  It is a viral communications program that is going to become important to all organizations that are interested in growing.
 
If you don't think you need to address the area, it would be wise to find out how many blogs originate within your own organization.  HP has more than 2,500. Microsoft has more than 3,000.  IBM has more than 4,500.  Proctor & Gamble?Coca-Cola?Pfizer?Dell?firms large and small have blogs being written by employees. 

 
 
Weblog, Blog
In its simplest terms a weblog can be an online (very public) diary.
 
It is a way for management to talk directly to customers, business partners and every stakeholder (including the board of directors).   Blogs provide an opportunity for you to convince them that the positions, directions and actions that you are taking are in the best interest of all concerned.
 
For the first time, every head of an organization has the chance to interact on a daily basis with every segment of his or her community.  The president/CEO has the unique opportunity to set the agenda, lead the commentary and shape opinions.
 
If it sounds too good to be true?it is!
 
Blogs are not one-way.  They are two-way communications that can be observed by millions.  Michael Dell has used the feedback very profitably - good and bad. He has used the information to hone Dell Computer's products and processes. This immediate and open communications has enabled the company to gain the #1 position in the PC industry.
 
As with Dell's and other corporate executive weblogs, the sites also provide a fast and direct means of conducting research of direct customer experience, company perception and review policy and programs in near real-time.
 
Granted, not all of the comments are favorable and many are downright negative but layers of managers don't dilute the responses.  As a result Dell management is able to evaluate the inputs and respond - internally and externally - as required.
 
Does Dell handle all of the feedback himself?  Of course not!  Nor does Microsoft's Bill Gates, GE's Jeff Immelt, AMD's Hector Ruiz, Home Depot's Robert Nardelli, the Dallas Mavericks' Mark Cuban or the growing number of CEOs who maintain weblogs.
 
All of these executives monitor their blogs.  They also have one or more members of their organization scanning, summarizing and focusing the information for the multitasking executive so he or she can respond and react accordingly.
 
While company/CEO blogs are not without their dangers, the alternative is that company blogs are being carried out by disgruntled employees (as was one highly-covered Yahoo blog) or unhappy customers (there are hundreds of negative company/product sites on the web).
 
However, the CEO blog provides a blank canvas for management to state and explain their positions, their actions.  It also provides management with an opportunity to immediately and directly address issues and concerns.  In some instances management can nullify the attack and in others they can turn detractors into supporters. 

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Related Keywords:blog, blogging, Web, Viral marketing, IM, SMS, constantly-connected world, CEOs, senior managers, management

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