Corporate blogging and PR…


I came across an interesting discussion on Corporate blogging and PR departments (via Scoble), and as so often happens, my short reply turned into a long one, and I thought I’d post it here. BTW, I agree with what Clarke said.

The question is whether a PR department should be involved with blogging. Elizabeth Albrycht posted a comment saying that PR could offer advice to bloggers, to help improve clarity.

I don’t think having PR provide editorial advice is a good thing. My concerns would be:

1) Anything that gets in the way of making blogging drop-dead simple causes problems, which means no approval process. I would often answer customer email questions in my blog, and then point the customer to the blog entry. That means I need to have it show up right when I write the entry.

2) Regardless of the good intentions of the PR department, I think knowing the PR department is reading all the blog entries is going to have a chilling effect on the bloggers. If I had to tell developers that PR would be reading their enties, my guess is that 90% of them wouldn’t have even started a blog.

3) It’s really hard to scale on something like that. If my post shows up a day late because the PR department can’t give me advice in time, I’m much less interested in blogging.

Finally, I think – and this is going to sound strange coming from an author who spends a lot of time editing – that clarity on blog posts is overrated.

Let me be more concrete.

I would rather have a blogger post 10 items that might not be totally clear and/or polished than have her post 9 items that were totally polished.

Blogs are all about content. Sure, it’s nice to have stuff that is readable, especially if you’re writing opinion stuff, but for the most part, it just doesn’t matter.

And blogs already have a great editorial department. It’s the readers. If I write something that’s unclear, I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a comment heading my way, and I have a great opportunity.


Comments (12)

  1. Ken Cox [MVP] says:

    I agree with you… blogs should be completely independent of PR – and sometimes the antithesis of PR when it describes something that is unflattering. What people write should remain unvarnished, unpolished and genuine.

    People in PR tend to be control freaks, insisting on massaging, revising, and generally tuning things to a corporate view.

    Bloggers who are responsible and know their limits don’t need the subtle censorship and administrative burden that comes with PR.

  2. Matt Davis says:

    Especially when you’re talking about technical blogs (like this one), I can’t imagine that a non-techie PR guy could help much with "clarity". Maybe MS has enough tech-types in their PR department that this isn’t true… But for corporate America at large (even in techie companies), I’d have to say that the PR crew generally don’t get it.

    It’s been my experience that people who are active bloggers AND technically sharp tend to be reasonably adept at getting their point across. Seems to me that involving PR would end up being a censor point ("you shouldn’t point out that flaw in our product", "the corporate line is XYZ", etc).

  3. PR overview is the quickest way to kill a blog, I imagine. Most people are not paid to blog. One PR comment and they will quit.

  4. goodscape says:

    thank you

    ********************************

    http://www.goodscape.com.cn/

  5. Smeg says:

    Oh I forgot, you live in the USA, u have no rights 😀

  6. Smeg says:

    Simple, Blog in your own time, once u blog at work, you are in the domain of Company PR.

    IF you arnt a mouthpeice for a corp, dont blab. Ouside the company contract time, they can blow me. I got my own privacy.

  7. Clinton Pierce says:

    Re: Point #2.

    When a manager sat me down and told me that my blog contained information that could be used to piece together a picture of something that could possibly be used to determine something about our software and said that I should stop blogging about anything at work.

    Simply not true. The trivial details I gave out were only of interest in a general sense, unless you knew the guts of the software, and then they had other potential meanings. I guess. The personnel issues I mentioned were, well, the same information I’d give out if you asked me on the street.

    I really resented being handled like that.

    From there on, I stopped saying anything positive (or negative) about that manager. At all. To anyone. He later got fired — with great prejudice.

  8. Thank you for your comments. I thought I’d offer a clarification. I am not suggesting editing/policing employee blogs. By all means, blog away! I am advising companies to have a blog policy that explains libel, etc. so employees don’t accidently run afoul of the law, but I am a wholehearted supporter of having employees blog. You are absolutely correct that the PR dept. can’t scale to manage that and shouldn’t.

    When I refer to providing some kind of advice to bloggers, I mean to the official company/executive blog. There are challenges to having the top guy/girl blog that the rest of the staff don’t have. Even then, I don’t propose to stifle the voice of the blogger. Just to help them communicate clearly. In some cases, there won’t be a role for PR people, if there is a truly fluent blogger at the top. But, this often isn’t the case, at least at the beginning as they are learning how to do it.

  9. anon says:

    "PR could offer advice to bloggers, to help improve clarity."

    PR improve clarity? What are they smoking?

  10. MBA says:

    Helpful For MBA Fans.