Corporate Blogging redux

by dave on August 17, 2007

Since everyone seems to be taking some level of interest in this blog entry from Robin Harris, I thought it merited a look. As someone who’s always maintained a blog (whether current or not is outside the purview of this entry) per “major life event,” I took some interest in what Robin had to say.

In the upper right-hand corner of my blog, I have a disclaimer statement. The statement in and of itself is meaningless, really, because, as you learn in Psychology 101, people will choose to believe whatever they want to about what you write or say. So, taken with a grain of salt, anyone can provide a disclaimer that theoretically detaches them from the entity they represent but, the umbilical cord is never really severed. To Robin’s point, the IBM Bloggers: Executive Summary (provided in-line with his blog post) is a concise statement of these intrinsic facts. Where Robin gets carried away is in the actual interpretation of said summary and it’s actual implementation. Let’s set the table, shall we?

So, Barry (the storage anarchist) wrote a couple three blog posts on “blogetking.” Rather than link them all here, I’ll distill his statements down to the following:

“…a corporate blogger also has an ethical and fiduciary responsibility
for factual representation of his company’s products and services in
his or her blog, to the same level of accuracy as her/his company would
require for any other logo’d collateral they produce.”

Sound about right, Barry?

Robin’s riposte, then, essentially takes the tact of turning Barry’s statement into a discussion of blogging under the auspices of a great PR front. Whatever. Where the big issue comes is best captured by a comment Robin makes in response to his own article: Chill guys. It’s only words.” If words are that vapid and powerless (as Robin seems to think), then we definitely shouldn’t need to worry about company wonks posting on their blogs because, well, they’re meaningless.

Contrary to Robin’s opinion in the matter, I’m reminded of the times (I have formerly been employed as an Adolescent Therapy Intern and as a Massachusetts State Department of Social Services Social Worker) where the impact of “only
words” was enough to rip a family to shreds. Even more pertinently, this story discusses how “only words” managed to affect the price of oil in a negative direction worldwide! Even further, what constitutes an analyst’s prediction on the market and a particular company’s performance? Words?  (mostly forward-thinking at that…) I’ve seen the biases of Wall Street analysts cause stock prices to tumble (> 15%) in a given day simply based on their:

  1. accessibility to the communication channels of the “outside” world
  2. their malformed misinformed opinions on what a company COULD do versus what they’re ACTUALLY doing.

This type of impact CLEARLY points to the role that unfettered words have in the world of capitalism. Barry’s plea, then, is aptly aimed not only at EMC folks (of whom I’m one) but also at others who, either positively or negatively, have the capability of causing significant impact in the market at large. Hu’s missteps in his blog, prior to correction, definitely serve as a reminder of that point.

Now, opinions are valid, whether screened or not, but when you’re provided the insight and position within Company X such that you could cause damage to their revenue and perception within the global market at large, I’d think that caution and oversight would be a good thing. There’s a reason why I am required to sign NDAs with the companies I associate with.

Am I wrong?



EDIT: clarified a few points. 🙂 

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