Most Companies Still Resistant

By Edward Cone  |  Posted 2003-10-20 Print this article Print

Still, most companies are reluctant to turn employees into embedded reporters. Blogging is making an impact in other disciplines. In politics, Howard Dean is generating buzz and bucks via his "Blog for America" site. Journalism is being transformed by amateur writers, like the man calling himself Salam Pax who wrote from Baghdad during the war, and by pros like Dan Gillmor, who blogs and writes conventional pieces for the San Jose Mercury-News. The New York Times is considering featuring weblogs on its site. But business blogging lags behind. There are some barriers to adoption. Using weblogs means trusting your employees to speak honestly and openly. It means conversing with customers, not just marketing to them. It means even more flattening of your organization.
For public companies, there are concerns about the unauthorized disclosure of financial information. For any company, there is concern about leakage of trade secrets and petty office politics. "The lawyers are scared that I might say something that gets Microsoft screwed," says Scoble. But these concerns can be contained. "There are certainly unwritten or understood rules," says Scoble. "If I post the [prerelease] build of Longhorn, Id get fired."
Some companies get around the scary stuff by using weblogs behind the corporate firewall. Google this summer purchased weblog software maker Pyra Labs; now, Google employees scattered across the country use blogs to exchange notes and create a shared record of their thoughts – something email cant do. Jeff Jarvis, president of the online unit of Advance Publications, is going farther. His sites use blogs to develop new products, such as reporting outlets for local high school sports, or entertainment news, or weather conditions at the Jersey Shore. "Its a way of unleashing the creativity of your people," says Jarvis, who writes a personal weblog of his own During the August blackout, weblogs sprang up at Advance to share information within the company — and with the public. Now Advance uses weblog software from Movable Type as its primary backup system for publishing during emergencies. Can managers stop worrying and learn to love the blog? As the payoff becomes apparent, more companies will open up. When one doesnt, its customers are going to want to know what the company is hiding. Says Scoble of corporate blogging, "I think its unstoppable." Edward Cone is a Senior Writer with Baseline. You can read his weblog at Discuss this in the eWEEK forum.

Senior Writer and author of the Know It All blog

Ed Cone has worked as a contributing editor at Wired, a staff writer at Forbes, a senior writer for Ziff Davis with Baseline and Interactive Week, and as a freelancer based in Paris and then North Carolina for a wide variety of magazines and papers including the International Herald Tribune, Texas Monthly, and Playboy. He writes an opinion column in his hometown paper, the Greensboro News & Record, and publishes the semi-popular weblog. He lives in North Carolina with his wife, Lisa, two kids, and a dog.

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