Big Media turns focus on Corporate Blogs

Like a Tour de France peleton chasing down a breakaway, the mainstream media has turned its eye to corporate blogging with a spate of new articles. They all mention the obligatory posterchild of corporate blogs done right, General Motor’s FastLane Blog. But they also dig deeper and surface some of the other excellent blogs out there (many running on Six Apart’s Movable Type software.)

US News & World Report runs down a laundry list:
Jonathan Schwartz, COO of Sun Microsystem
Randy Baseler, VP of Marketing of Boeing Commercial
Carole Brown, chair of the Chicago Transit Board
Richard Edelman, President and CEO of public-relations firm Edelman
Paul Otellini, President and CEO of Intel (internal blog)
Rich Marcello, SVP and General Manager of HP
Alan Meckler, Chairman and CEO of Jupitermedia

The Financial Times covers the 10,000 foot view, mentioning the GM & Boeing blogs but also pointing out the perils of not having a blog to respond to criticisms as in the oft-referenced case of Krytonite. After failing to respond in a timely way to the Bic pen hack that was amplified in the blogosphere they saw sales of their locks fall off a cliff and wipe out nearly half of their annual sales in just 10 days.

InformationWeek has a piece written by Bob Lutz who writes the FastLane Blog with some sage advice:

If you filter the negatives out, you don’t have a true dialogue, so how can you hope to change anybody’s mind about your products or your business? And changing minds is priority one at GM. The blog is a great opportunity to tell the public directly about the cars and trucks we have on the market and the ones we’re bringing to market soon. It’s one of the few chances we have to get the word out without running it through the media filter. Advertising is another avenue, of course, but it has much lower credibility than the blog, where we’re engaging in a real conversation with readers. We’ve also used the blog to address
specific media articles that we considered unfair, unbalanced, or uninformed.

To me, the blog is a way for GM to be culturally relevant. It allows us to be on the leading edge of new technology while getting our strong views out there about our cars and trucks. So far, response has been outstanding, with more than 5,000 visits and 13,000 page views a day. To any senior executive on the fence about starting a corporate blog, I have a word of advice: Jump.


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iPod Flea

What if Apple took miniaturization to next level?


Voce Hosts Event on Corporate Blogging

Voce Communications who advised Yahoo on their popular Search Blog is hosting an event in Palo Alto with local law firm Cooley Godward next week. The topic will be about corporate blogging but also the legal challenges. "transparency must be balanced with purpose and responsibility" says the invite post. Space is limited so  contact them in advance for an invite.

Current Events

Engrish on Flickr

Why didn’t I think of it earlier? An Engrish photostream on Flickr.

Fat Man Walking

Read about this one in the paper. Steve Vaught woke up one morning tired of not being able to lose weight and concerned about how long he’d live (he was 400 lbs.). He threw everything up in the air and decided to walk from San Diego to New York. Totally bold move (he has two kids and a wife). It might have been better if he trained a bit because his progress is not as rapid as he planned. Instead of being safely North for the hot Summer months, he’s still in Arizona! Read the journal updated by his wife to follow his progress.

We, as a society, are growing larger and have become a big market for high dollar fast fixes. We are not getting the fix because it is an illusion. Don’t get me wrong, if I were given the option I would trade just about anything to be trim and fit again I have the  same excuses, desires and dreams as many others in my position. I know though, that there is no other option but physical exertion to truly get back into shape.

A Fat Man Walking


Shameless Plug

The recent upgrade of TypePad has brought a whole host of new features that are worth highlighting. If you’ve been on the fence about getting into blogging, now is the time and TypePad’s the product!

– Doubled Bandwidth and Storage
– Snazzy new themes
– Moderated comments
– TypeKey integration

Click on the button on the left to learn more.

If you already have TypePad, be sure to set aside some time to explore these new features in detail. One easy way of doing this without messing with your existing blog is to create a test blog.

If you don’t have a TypePad account and want to see what all the fuss is about, sign up for a 30-day free trial and check it out.

Corporate Blogs, a new paradigm for product design

Backbone Media, an internet marketing and web development firm based outside of Boston, has published a meaty survey of corporate bloggers to try and get a sense of the motivations and best practices behind corporate blogs. Their survey, Corporate Blogging: Is it Worth they Hype? is the best piece out there today. Along with the empirical survey results are also the results of interviews with bloggers at

  • Annie’s Homegrown
  • IBM
  • iUpload
  • Macromedia
  • Maytag
  • Microsoft

Each of the studies here contain useful lessons. I particularly like the story behind Macromedia’s product marketing blogs which underscores the benefits of open channels of communication with customers to the product development process. I think IBM got a bit short-changed in this report as the blogger they interviewed didn’t seem to represent the enlightened viewpoints I’ve been reading.

What Backbone Media really is talking about is harnessing the conversations and relationships generated by well-written product blogs to drive future product development. Listening to customers shouldn’t be a revolutionary concept:

In essence blogs are learning tools, specifically a company can use a blog to learn how to improve or develop new products by communicating more effectively with their customers through the use of corporate blogs. Any company should encourage customer ideas, reward them and learn from their customer’ s example. If they do they will build more successful products, which also have ready customers who want to adopt new ideas and products because those same customers have participated in the process of product development. Such a strategy will also have additional Internet marketing benefits in the form of more backlinks and higher search engine rankings, as well as direct traffic from links on many different websites.

We all need to remember, customers, by purchasing and using a product, own the past, present, future, and ultimate success of a company and brand. A good product manager represents the customers as constituents and gains their confidence as their elected leader.

Chirac mocks British cuisine, UK fights back by stealing Olympics

Nothing like a good international rivalry to brighten up your morning paper and the French politicians can always be counted on for a good zinger every now and then. Chirac’s latest off the cuff remark overheard by a reporter at the French paper Liberation was well-timed right before the G-8 summit being held in Scotland.

“We can’t trust people who have such bad food,” Chirac was quoted as saying. He reportedly added that only Finland has worse food in Europe and that mad cow disease was Britain’s sole contribution to European agriculture.

Ouch! Well the morning papers ate it up as everyone spoils for a good fight. Of course, when news that London clinched the 2012 Summer Olympic bid from runner-up Paris, my mailbox was peppered with all sorts of good-natured jabs such as the photo above.

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Google’s Master Plan Revealed

Google Master Plan

Google’s Masterplan discovered on a “Do Not Erase” whiteboard, photographed and annotated for posterity in this Flickr posting.


Tintin and old friends

Yesterday I had a nice suprise. Mark Prendergast, a childhood friend from when I was in 3rd grade, sent me a note filling in some details which I had left off my biography. Mark used to come over to my house and we would read my Tintin comic books and listen to The Goon Show tapes my dad had on his old reel-to-reel tape deck.

Mark lived a culturally rich life as he was up on a hill and was able to get the NBC channel that carried the Star Trek series. I remember being left out of all the playground conversations because I didn’t know what anyone was talking about. I was down in the valley and resorted to European comics where the hero always would exclaim “Hello?” when he was shocked and offbeat British humor.

Anyway, it’s nice to see that Tintin has left a mark as he says he now reads Tintin to his daughter. My sister, when she travelled to Thailand last year, brought me back a wooden replica of Tintin which sits on my desk at work – on his way to his next adventure.