If most corporate communications professionals recognize the value of
corporate blogs, why have so few large companies implemented one?
Many obstacles stand in the way. Concerns over ROI, time restraints and
fear come to mind. In formulating a corporate blogging strategy, we
tend to place a great deal of emphasis on our external audiences. But
building internal support is equally challenging. I don’t just
mean CEO buy-in. I mean reaching out to various stakeholders within the
A successful blog requires understanding an organization’s dynamics and sensitivity to the needs of the principals.
No doubt this is common sense advice, but where do you begin? From
experience, I appreciate the need for thought leaders to articulate the
vision, evangelists to spread the word, mediators to build consensus
and believers to make it happen. But corporate communications can be a
catalyst and a key agent for managing the process.
As change agents, it may be useful for us to consider the following questions:
- Who should own the blog and drive its content? PR, marketing, product (services) Development or a mix?
- How will reader feedback be used?
- What role do HR and the legal department play in setting boundaries?
- Where does customer support fit in? How will it absorb questions that involve billing or require technical assistance?
- How can the sales team take advantage of reader feedback?
- How active should
the marketing group be in preserving the brand, but respecting the need
to avoid “marketing speak?”
- How do you solicit IT to license the right software and to make sure it is scalable and secure?
- How do you engage product or service development teams to ensure their consistent participation as advisors and contributors?
- How do you enlist the support of employees to contribute or create their own personal or product blogs?
When I was helping
implement EarthLink’s social media strategy, I sat down with
executives and a wide cross section of the company to understand their
needs and concerns. I developed surveys to assess their appreciation of
social media and their usage patterns. I worked with the legal
department to define parameters. I met with IT engineers to understand
what was feasible and of course sought senior management buy-in.
It may be helpful to view your efforts as a campaign and consider the following steps:
- Assess what your competition is doing
- Monitor the conversation about your company
- Define your message (why you need a blog)
- Set expectations and key metrics
- Identify your key internal stakeholders
- Enlist allies to help spread the word
- Reach out to skeptics and address their concerns
Taking these steps will put you in a good position to make the case to senior management.
But as the weight
loss ads always say, your individual results may vary. Implementing
these guidelines won’t guarantee final approval for a blog, but
ignoring them will ensure failure and represent a lost opportunity for
corporate communications to take a leadership role in formulating a
company’s new media strategy.