Why companies should use blogs

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Archive for April, 2005

Enough With Blogging Already

Posted on April 29, 2005 by Roland

At a time where the mainstream media are discovering blogs and say that companies should integrate them in their strategies of communication, it is interesting to hear a discording voice, even if it is biased. In this article from Darwinmag.com, Graeme Thickins, a 25-year marketing and public relations professional, tells us why — according to him — “business and blogs are like oil and water:” they don’t mix.

Here are some of his arguments.

  • Business doesn’t like doing public experiments.
  • Business is already time-strapped and blogs burn time like nobody’s business.
  • Businesses already communicate well in various ways.
  • Businesses are advertisers, and advertisers don’t like blogs.
  • Business writing style and blogger style don’t even come close. Editing is the major missing ingredient in the latter.

I don’t know what you think of this argumentation. For me, it sounds that Graeme Thickins is a desperate man who doesn’t want to embrace the changes appearing in the PR world.

Meanwhile, Stowe Boyd, from Corante, who used to write a monthly column for Darwinmag.com, refutes the author’s points one by one in this note, “Get Real.”

After reading both sides, what is your opinion?

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“Les Blogs” at the French Senate

Posted on April 26, 2005 by Roland

As all the other participants at the blogging event organized yesterday inside the French Senate, I spent a very rewarding day. And I just want to share two elements with you: an audio report aired yesterday morning by France-Info and a panoramic image of one of the Courts of the Senate generated by AutoStitch.

France-Info, an all-news radio station, has aired yesterday a short audio segment about blogs, and more specifically about blogs which are almost becoming companies. In this report, Sébastien Paour, from France-Info, talked with Loïc Le Meur, Andrew Carton and Christophe Lavédan.

If you understand French, here is a link to this report called “Certains blogs sont de véritables entreprises” (RealAudio format, 1 minute and 57 seconds).

And now, here is a panoramic image of one of the Courts of the Senate, built automatically by AutoStitch from 8 photos in less than 30 seconds.

A panoramic image of one of the Courts of the Senate

Here is a link to a larger image (1,048 x 348 pixels, 252 KB).

See you next year for another !

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Tips to corporate bloggers — from BusinessWeek

Posted on April 23, 2005 by Roland

This week, the cover story of BusinessWeek is about blogs and how they can impact all companies. [For more information, read “Blogs Will Change Your Business” or buy the magazine.] In an article only published online, “Six Tips for Corporate Bloggers,” BusinessWeek writes that small and big companies can’t afford to miss this wave, but also that they can’t afford to do it wrong if they want to use this phenomenon to gain a competitive advantage.

Here is a short summary of BusinessWeek’s advices.

  • Train your bloggers: in fact, you need to clearly define a corporate blogging policy.
  • Be careful if you want to use “fake” blogs!
  • Check what the blogosphere says about your company.
  • If you want to use a blog for your “Public Relations,” remember that the keyword here is “public.”
  • Be transparent: nothing new here.
  • And don’t hesitate to redefine your concepts of corporate secrets. If you give to the outside world what you previously considered as a secret, you might be surprised by the feedbacks from potential customers. They might help you to improve your products before they’re released. Of course, your competitors will know in advance what you’re cooking, so there is a delicate balance here.

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Build Free Panoramic Photographs with AutoStitch

Posted on April 19, 2005 by Roland

You might think that the tool I’m talking about today is not relevant for this blog, but who knows? Maybe you’ll need it one day. Anyway, I’ve recently discovered AutoStitch, an automatic 2D image stitcher, thanks to a reader of Fred Langa’s newsletter (read his review). Check for example this panoramic image of the Louvre Pyramid in Paris created by AutoStitch without any intervention from my part.

AutoStitch, developed at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, is truly amazing. This has been years since I’ve been that impressed by a piece of software. It works very simply: you select a collection of pictures and AutoStich analyses their contents and returns you one (or several) panoramic images.

You can download AutoStitch for free from this page containing lots of graphics (780 KB) and try it for yourself.

Once you start to play with it (no Linux/Mac version yet!), you’ll be hooked. So if you decide to use AutoStich and are happy with the panoramic photographs it generates for you, please post a comment below with a pointer to your nicest images.

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A free blog to find a job

Posted on April 16, 2005 by Roland

One of the leading French sites for recruiting managers, Cadres Online, has started a blogging portal for candidates who would like to promote themselves via a blog. This new portal opened this week and you can create your blog easily and freely by going to this blogging portal.

Why use a blog to search for a job? As I often wrote, a blog is a tool you can use to promote yourself. And it’s easier to describe your competencies on a blog than on a resume sent to a recruitment cabinet.

By the way, these cabinets are starting to look seriously at blogs, and some of them have even hired bloggers after reading them. (As an example in France, check the site of Jacques Froissant, from Altaïde.)

Cadres Online has signed an agreement with TypePad France, which allows them to propose free blogs — which is a good solution for most of us — or paying solutions for candidates who would like to have several blogs.

Let’s finish on a warning note: this kind of blog is mostly reserved to people searching for a job. You should avoid this portal if you have a good job today.

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Joe Gordon got his job back… but doesn’t want it anymore!

Posted on April 13, 2005 by Roland

At the beginning of 2005, a Scottish blogger lost his job in an Edinburgh bookstore where he worked for eleven years because of his blog called The Woolamaloo Gazette. On this blog, published under his real name, he modified the name of the company he worked for from “Waterstone’s” to “Bastardstone’s.” Now, after three months of negociation between his trade union and Waterstone’s, the book chain accepted to give him his job back, as writes Out-Law.com in “Sacked Waterstone’s blogger offered his job back.”


To refresh your memory, here is a link to a previous article from Out-Law.com, “Blogger sacked by Waterstone’s.”

Joe Gordon was one the first bloggers in the U.K. to lose his job because of what he wrote on his blog. And his union has appealed against his dismissal and fought until Gordon was offered reinstatement. You’ll find more information in a note written by Gordon about a press release from his union.

Anyway, and this is perfectly understandable after such a conflict, Joe Gordon has decided to accept another job offer at Forbidden Planet Graphic Novels where he has already started a new blog.

Good luck, Joe!

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Corporate Blogging Policies: Plaxo

Posted on April 10, 2005 by Roland

You probably all know Plaxo, a company that offers electronic address book updating services — and because of which I’m receiving several emails each week asking me to update someone else address book. Plaxo hired Mark Jen, who was fired by Google because he criticized the company on his blog. This time, Mark Jen wants to keep his job, and is participating in the definition of Plaxo’s corporate blogging policy. Plaxo is also asking readers for comments to improve this policy.

Here are two links about Mark Jen’s new blog at Plaxo and the Plaxo Public Internet Communication Policy.

This policy — even if it’s not finalized yet — is almost similar to the other ones we discussed previously here. But it probably needed several lawyers to write it. Here is an example.

You may not post any material that is obscene, defamatory, profane, libelous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful or embarrassing to another person or any other person or entity.

Why such a complicated statement to simply say, “Respect Others”?

For more information about Mark Jen’s feelings now that he landed a job at Plaxo, you can read this article from Silicon Valley Watcher, “Mark Jen, fired Google blogger, helps Plaxo draft a blogging policy.”

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Corporate Blogging Policies: Sun Microsystems

Posted on April 7, 2005 by Roland

Publishing a blog when you work for Sun Microsystems is pretty simple. You just have to read its Policy on Public Discourse and to agree with it by clicking on a button. Once this is done, you can publish whatever and whenever you want without management approval. Still, you have to remember to respect the rules you agreed with.

Here is a summary of these basic rules.

  • Don’t tell secrets.
  • Be interesting.
  • Write what you know.
  • Obey financial rules.
  • Quality matters: use a spell-checker.
  • Put a disclaimer on your front page saying you work for Sun, but that you’re speaking for yourself.
  • And remember to use your judgment: “using your weblog to trash or embarrass the company, our customers, or your co-workers, is not only dangerous but stupid.”

In other words, these rules are not there to limit the freedom of speech of a Sun employee. They’re more like guidelines telling him to use common sense before writing in public.

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Is Bob Lutz a real blogger?

Posted on April 5, 2005 by Roland

You probably know GM FastLane, the blog from Bob Lutz, of General Motors. Bob Lutz was vice-chairman of GM North America. But because of poor financial results, Rick Wagoner, GM’s CEO, decided yesterday to take day-to-day control of North American automotive operations. For more information, you can read “GM CEO Takes Over Core Car Unit.”

As a result, Bob Lutz has been pushed aside and will lead GM’s global product development activities.

Can you see this on his blog? Not at all. The last note is dated March 30, and his ousting came on April 3.

For me, Bob Lutz is not a “real” blogger. And you, what’s your take?

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Corporate Blogging Policies: Feedster

Posted on April 3, 2005 by Roland

Feedster is a company which provides a specialized search engine and an advertising network. But unlike companies such as Google, Feedster searches only XML-based RSS feeds and monitors over five million syndicated feeds, including many blogs. So it’s just natural that Feedster established a corporate blogging policy, even if it has only about ten employees today.

Here is a summary of the six basic principles of Feedster’s corporate blogging policy.

  • Please make it clear to your readers that the views you express are yours alone and that they do not necessarily reflect the views of Feedster.
  • Be careful to avoid disclosing any information that is confidential or proprietary to the company.
  • Please consult your manager if you have questions about the appropriateness of publishing documents related to the company’s business.
  • Be respectful to the company, our employees, our customers, our partners and affiliates, and others (including our competitors).
  • Ask permission before using company trademarks or reproducing company material on your site.
  • And remember that you may be asked to suspend your blogging activity if the company believes it’s necessary for legal reasons.

Do you think these rules are appropriate? Personally, I think they are.

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Roland Piquepaille
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