Carefully Planned Communications

Here’s a long article on corporate blogging in US News — Blogging Bosses. We’re in there with a bunch of other companies that have executive bloggers. It’s a pretty nice piece, and it’s great that Sun is always in these big blogging articles in the national press. But one quote made me chuckle a bit:

Promoting a new sense of openness — whether with employees, customers, or the public — is one of the most important things that blogs can accomplish in this age of mistrust. “What people think about businesses right now couldn’t be any worse. As a result, you want to be as open and honest as you can,” says Paul Argenti, professor of corporate communication at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.

But for all the advantages that executive blogs may offer, they still pose daunting questions for corporations. One of the most critical: Can executives, ever cognizant of the need for discretion, really sound credible in the raw, straight-talking world of blogs?

Yes and no, says Argenti. “It’s naive to think these blogs are anything other than carefully planned communications. Because of regulation and the possibility of attacks from antagonists, companies can’t be off the cuff in their communication.” However, he adds, “it’s a good thing that there’s more communication from senior executives, because people don’t want these folks sitting in an ivory tower.”

It’s the “carefully planned” and “can’t be off the cuff” parts that are funny. At Sun? Right. I don’t see it that way at all. “Carefully planned” and “can’t be off the cuff” imply control from corporate communications. But BSC grew from the edge — not the center — far from corporate communications. In fact, the entire thing was launched with no formal announcement whatsoever. Also, no one is planning what we write. For my part, I decide what I’m going to write moments before I do it, and whatever comes out comes out. I follow the guidelines, and so far it’s worked out ok.

BSC is a diverse community that shares a vision and promotes the free exchange of ideas throughout the company and across the firewall. It’s not a “carefully planned communications” mechanism acting on behalf of a corporate message. It’s just the opposite, actually. That’s why it works. Because its everything but “carefully planned communications.”

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2 thoughts on “Carefully Planned Communications

  1. Stephan … Jonathan says he checks in with people (legal, etc) if there’s a critical point he needs to run by them since he’s an executive. That’s understandable. However, that is not for every blog or for every word in every blog; it’s simply for certain issues. Otherwise, he blogs like the rest of us.

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  2. I think the author was talking about executive blogs, not all corporate blogs in general. I don’t know if it is true or not, but it is certainly believable that what Mr. Schwartz writes in his blog is at least crosschecked by corporate lawyers and PR people.
    And it surely is true that his entries are “carefully planned”, at least compared to your entries. He has to think about the media reaction and the reaction from the competition. He surely considers this when writing something, maybe even anticipating or hoping for a specific reaction. Contrast this with “normal” bloggers…

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