On the subject of authenticity


The authenticity of blogs,specifically. It shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion. Case in point.


So my question is this: should we have to ask each time we are reading a blog, whether the content is spoon fed by the PR department? Or does the word “blog” imply a certain level of authenticity and transparency?


If you are hanging around here, you know my opinion. A blog is a blog, a corporate PR site is a corporate PR site. And never the twain shall meet. Uh, unless I link you to a PR announcement for some actual, like, corporate treatment on a subject I am not qualified to comment on. Happens. The thing is, you know when you are on my blog and you know when you are on a PR site.


But the idea of acting as a messenger of our PR department makes me throw up in my mouth a little bit. It’s the inauthenticity that bothers me. It’s not that there is anything wrong with PR. It’s necessary; vital even. But I am not a PR person, not even close to being qualified for that job (and I should know because I used to hire those folks). And PR was never the goal of my blog (let’s hear it for a PR department that does not feel the need to control employees’ opinions). They are over there, and I am over here writin’ my blog. When I started my blog, I intended to serve up my own crappy opinion. And that has been clear from the beginning. And that opinion is not sanctioned by Microsoft. Not signed off on by PR. Frequently. I type it as it runs through my little brain. Microsoft may own my blog, but I own my opinion.


So yeah…Google. You know, maybe this is an isolated incident, and maybe it is indicative of a blogging environment that is not as authentic as it seems. I have a tendency to always question whether things are as they appear to be, to poke things with a sharp stick. I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.


 


Comments (11)

  1. Great post Heather! One of the reasons I’ve always liked your blog is because you work for a large corporation and yet, your own voice and opinions come out clearly. You don’t seem to be blogging to try and gain tons of subscribers or whatever, so you do your own thing, which is a refreshing change from the typical Web 2.0/Social media-type bloggers.

    "should we have to ask each time we are reading a blog, whether the content is spoon fed by the PR department?"

    I think corporate blogs should be clearly separated from personal blogs- while it’s OK to tow the company line (you seem to love MS!), it’s pretty sneaky for PR to be giving specific lines to make it sound like the author’s personal thoughts/opinion…

  2. Paul says:

    This is a very sore point for me, but unfortunately, if you go shopping for PR services these days, most agencies claim to have blog expertise, and will help you set one up and even write it.  In part, it’s because companies have seen the SEO benefits, and the PR department wants to assert what they view as control of messaging. Of course, what ends up happening is the kind of google pablum that you point to.  At least it’s written with so little passion, and is so devoid of meaning, that it’s pretty easy to see through.

    The majority of really good blogs these days are "grandfathered" from a previous generation when you were allowed to have a personality independent of the corporation, or they are authored by the leaders of small to mid-size companies who have the power to tell their PR departments to go fish.  What you do inside Microsoft stands out more and more.

    On the plus side, I think even if the PR departments are too out of touch to realize that their official trash-speak and useful communications with authentic opinions are not the same thing, most of us on the other side are able to tell. The frustration is in not knowing right away so you don’t have to waste time getting through a few lines before it’s obvious.

    Of course I don’t think we should have to ask the question you pose.  Unfortunately, we do have to, so maybe the alternative is a new widget — let’s call it Heather’s Blog BS-Meter.  It attaches itself to the blog header of whatever you’re reading, and gives the reader a simple thumbs up or thumbs down recommendation on whether they should waste their time.  I would subscribe.  You might even be able to monetize it….

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hmmmm. I love that idea. It’s the "crap meter". Maybe we do a weekly review of a blog on here.

    I have to say that our PR department really DOES get it when it comes to blogging (and I am sure that there are other PR departments out there). Not to too opportunistically toot their horn, but they really stay out of our business unless someone has done something stupid and they have to help clean it up. Of course, I have never needed that kind of help. 😉

  4. RB says:

    Start another blog where you can say whatever want.

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Who are you talking to? I do say whatever I want. That is my point.  I don’t WANT to talk about PR talking points. repeating someone else’s words isn’t my idea of fun.

  6. Burg says:

    I think we need more authenticity in this world.  period.  It would give back several hours of our lives trying to decipher what each others motives are, and it may create a bit more mutual respect in the world if we approached each other with a bit more authenticity.  

    that was a little more deep I was planning on getting on a Sunday afternoon.. but after reading this post a few times over the last week.. I kept thinking about it.

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    I like the deep comments, Burg 🙂

    I think that many people shy away from authenticity because they fear giving and hearing the truth, especially when it conflicts with peoples’ sense of self. Hey, how’s that for deep?

    On some level, I think that many of us "can’t handle the truth." Or at least, we don’t want to handle it because it requires us to acknowledge it. We do it to ourselves, much of the time, at least on a personal level.

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    I like the deep comments, Burg 🙂

    I think that many people shy away from authenticity because they fear giving and hearing the truth, especially when it conflicts with peoples’ sense of self. Hey, how’s that for deep?

    On some level, I think that many of us "can’t handle the truth." Or at least, we don’t want to handle it because it requires us to acknowledge it. We do it to ourselves, much of the time, at least on a personal level.

  9. Burg says:

    I think your right.  My theory would require alot of truth telling and truth accepting..

    As recruiters, I think a bit more authentic-ness would do everybody well.  I hear alot of candidates and alot of recruiters who are so full of themselves it does none of us any good.

    This is a very Jerry Mcguire memo (the thing he writes that gets him fired in the begining of the movie) type of thought.. but I stand by it.  

    Great blog Heather.  

  10. RB says:

    This is what you say without moderation? You’re a real spitfire.

  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    RB – I think I have reminded you before that if you don’t like it, feel free to move along. I won’t be insulted since you are, like, anonymous, and clearly quite the brave spitfire yourself. It will be hard to go on without you, but somehow I will muster the will to blog again.