Monday, June 9, 2008

Making It "Official": Why Don't More Companies Have Official Blogs?

Why don't more companies have official blogs? It seems like a great way to interact with consumers. You get to put out messages and initiatives you want them to know about, and they get to give you feedback, good and bad. People are probably blogging about you any way at an unofficial blog. Why not get into the game?

Rich Julius a partner at the marketing strategy company Crimson Consulting Group brings up one reason why: your company's lawyers won't let you have an official blog. It's certainly a consideration. I can think of a lot of situations where blogging with customers could get a company into legal trouble. What if the blogger lets slip something that's proprietary? Or makes promises on the blog that the company later fails to keep? Here at the TV station our lawyers always counsel us to be cautious what we say in e-mail or on the phone when we're talking to angry viewers -- certainly this would be true of interactions with viewers on a blog as well. Sure, legal could review every post, but Julius says if you're going to sanitize the blog, then why bother. It's not really a blog.

On his company's blog (yeah, this company's definitely got one--check out their blog roll for some really useful links), Julius' colleague Karen O'Brien talks about another reason possible reason why companies don't have blogs: they don't have the kinds of experts on their staffs to make it happen. On her post O'Brien lists a dizzying array of 13 different areas of expertise for which a company might need a "strategist" to support their social media activities. She links to another informative blog by Jeremiah Owyang, a Senior Manager at Forrester Research, in which he asserts that to do social media right, companies will need an actual social media manager who focuses full time on the subject. Yikes!

Which leads me to another reason why companies probably don't blog: it's really time and labor intensive! Blogger Yaro Staraks says that a good blog should have at least one new post a day to keep it fresh and keep people coming back, so someone needs to be constantly researching and writing blog posts -- or recruiting others to write. Then someone needs to monitor the blog on a daily (if not more often) basis to see what's being said in the responses -- and respond to those if necessary. I can see how the task could balloon into a full time job.

I talked with our web manager Jennifer Pollard about whether the TV station has ever considered an "official" blog. We do already have 10 personal blogs written by our staff on everything from The Young and the Restless to the city's three sports teams. Jen said no, we've never talked about an official blog, and we started brainstorming about what it might contain. In a minute or two we came up with a whole list of potential ideas. For example, we get lots of complaints from viewers about why we tease so much. So I could blog about how television ratings work and why they necessitate the need for promotion and teases. Our awesome Creative Services producer Greg Loscar could blog about the effort that went into directing, shooting and editing the station's latest "Your Home" image promotion spot. Some of the station's individual blogs could be incorporated into the main blog, kind of like Dell computer's blog posts to their main page, and then to the various blog categories represented on the page.

Then Jen and I got curious. Do other television station's have "official" blogs like the one we were talking about? My first stop was the website for WRAL, the ABC affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina. Jen says their website is one that's often mentioned as one of the best TV sites because they've been at it for so long and tend to be more creative and cutting edge than most. WRAL has no fewer than 27 staff blogs, but no "official" blog. None of the stations in New York, the biggest media market in the country, has an official blog either. In fact I checked out a number of large markets and no one has an "official" blog.

If any of you have found an official blog for a TV station, I'd love to hear about it.


Heidi M said...

Anne-- As a viewer/reader, I'd be more interested in the staff blogs because it's more human interest.

Anne said...

Heidi --

I agree, except they're so "all over the place" in my opinion. It seems like they ought to be organized in some way. Plus, I get TONS of e-mail from viewers, much of it about the same subjects. It would be more effective to address it all at once in a blog, don't you think?


Heidi M said...


Blogs were created to be "anti-establishment." They are free-spirited in nature. These are "citizen journalists" giving a snapshot of their lives and their opinions. Having an "official" blog would go against the initial intent of blogging.