Blogs should not be 'subject to management approval'

According to an article I saw in the Wall Street Journal

Dale & Thomas Popcorn, a Teaneck, N.J., gourmet popcorn company, is seeking an online-marketing coordinator to create and maintain a company blog on the love of popcorn, among other tasks

That sounds very progressive of them, I thought, obviously a company with their finger on the pulse. The article goes on to say

Paul Goodman, senior vice president of ecommerce, says he hopes a blog will enhance customer relations and help boost the company Web site’s search-engine rankings.

Even better I thought, they realise that blogs are good for customer relations and that blogs are good for Search Engine Optimisation (Dale & Thomas Popcorn badly need some help on the SEO front – a Google search for Dale & Thomas Popcorn has the company website coming up in position 23!).

However, and you knew there was going to be a however, didn’t you? The article then continues on to ruin all their previous good noises with:

The blog will be subject to Mr. Goodman’s approval prior to publication, he notes: “This will not be an unauthorized blog.”

NO! No, no, no, no, no! You don’t get it at all.

Blogs are supposed to be conversational. They are supposed to be spur-of-the-moment, off the cuff, open, honest and revealing – that’s why so many people read blogs. If they are ‘subject to management approval’ – then they will be bland, safe, boring recycled press releases, which no-one will want to read. No benefit will accrue to the company and in six months time Dale & Thomas will be telling people “Blogs? Yeah, we tried them but they didn’t work for us.”

Compare the Dale & Thomas approach with that of Microsoft – according to Chapter two of Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s Naked Conversations

As of March 2004, there were more than 1500 active bloggers at Microsoft “Legal is still worryingâ€?, says Allen, but “until this day, we haven’t had anyone do something so incredibly stupid that it required a blogging policy and none has ever been issued.

Now, if Microsoft can have 1500 people blogging with no blogging policy issued, surely Dale & Thomas can manage a single blogger? Guys, let me give you a hint, if you hire the right person, you won’t have to be looking over their shoulder.

By the way, if Dale & Thomas really wanted to improve their Search Engine Optimisation, they should also:

  1. Put their text higher up on the Home Page and they need more of it (there is only a tiny amount of text on the home page and this appears after over 230 lines of code when you view the source! The text in the images is not readable by Search Engines)
  2. Develop a Linkage strategy – currently they have almost no inward linkage to their site and most importantly
  3. Get their site validating according to the W3c validator – currently the Home Page contains 43 code errors!

Hat tip to Gavin for pointing out the WSJ article.

3 thoughts on “Blogs should not be 'subject to management approval'”

  1. I kind of agree and kind of not agree with you. I think with technology companies that allow blogs (like Sun, Microsoft, IBM,…) all have rough guidelines one must follow. A lot of the guidelines (at least Sun’s) are pretty common sense but it helps guide employees from generally making bad moves. Point here, is there have been considerations and some amount of mitigation done to prevent (reduce?) legal actions.

    I also think technology companies that have been working electronically already have the understanding that people speaking over the phone is very similar to speaking electronically. That is the progression of email vs. phone to usenet vs email to blogs vs usenet is probably a lot smaller granularity to deal with and understand than blogs vs phone. Bottom line there really isn’t a difference (except size of broadcast) of a support person communicating with a customer on the phone versus posting something on a blog. Whereas Mr Goodman is probably looking at blogs more like a newspaper media.

    So the question I would have for Mr Goodman is whether he has to approve every conversation that each customer rep has with customers? I assume the answer is no and then the question morphs into why he believes blogs are that much different.

    In the end I agree with you that the company will probably not do well with their blogs. However, my belief is that the employees will probably not want to deal with getting approvals and the fact that initially Mr Goodman may run into a lot of items to approve.

    Wow, I didn’t really plan on making such a long response.


  2. my belief is that the employees will probably not want to deal with getting approvals and the fact that initially Mr Goodman may run into a lot of items to approve

    True Terry, it will depend on who they take on to blog – if it is someone who is confident enough, they may be able to convince Mr Goodman that he is harming their blog (and by extension the company) rather than helping through his restrictions.

  3. Too funny, I think I didn’t read your article carefully enough. It really didn’t sink in that they were going to hire a particular individual to write a blog. Kind of like a Blogging Czar, this seems rather silly to me. I think they’d be better served having their customer liason’s blog. However, I imagine that might be outsourced to people who only take orders (therefore little concern about the company) so maybe that is a bad idea.

    Anyways, it seems to me that even with a free roaming Blog Czar they’d still end up with a paid commercial blog. I guess that’s ok, just that I doubt I would visit it. Not sure if the product was something like beer if I would visit it either (hmmm, does Guinness have blog).


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