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In starting to read the second half of Scoble and Israel’s “Naked Conversations,” I was pleased to read the introductory paragraphs which asserted that there are real issues and reasons surrounding blogging and whether or not it is prudent for an organization to do so. Furthermore, they suggested that they are not prone to Pollyanna stories and that blogging has both upsides and downsides.

However, I found that in reading the pages that followed, Scoble and Israel may have attempted to address the downsides of blogging but really just presented more support for their one-sided argument that blogging is wonderful. For example, in the section where they address reasons why companies or organizations should not blog, they list the following reasons:

n “If you are a genuine bad guy, or part of an organization of bad guys, don’t blog”

n “People who have really awful communication skills should not blog.”

n “Cultures change slowly. If yours is closed, we suggest opening it before shocking the ecosystem with a blog.”

n “If your employees feel untrusted, you may need to take steps to demonstrate your faith in them before you encourage blogging.”

n “If you don’t have genuine faith that you can evolve in to a better company by listening to what your customers, prospects, investors, vendors, and partners have to say, then blogging effort will not provide you with its full value.

n If you don’t want to listen – really listen – then blogs will be thorny for you and your culture.”

In my opinion, this is a transparent and biased presentation that feeds the egos of the authors. I found a more compelling list of “10 Reasons Your Company Shouldn’t Blog” in Advertising Age. http://adage.com/digitalnext/post?article_id=131126

This list includes such reasons as:

n A blog is not a substitute for a marketing campaign. It is simply a potential part of corporate communications.

n A blog is not a substitute for advertising — if you need to fill a new hotel, or sell a product by a certain date, advertise.

n A blog is not a quick fix — the results come in the long term, the same way they do with PR.

n Blogs are not cheap. A good one requires skilled programming to set it up, a professional graphic designer to make it part of your corporate identity, a talented and dedicated writer or editor, full-time.

n You need to drive traffic to a blog. There are many ways to do that. All of them require time, effort and money.

Throughout the second half of “Naked Conversations” Scoble and Israel continue to claim that blogging can replace a PR or marketing campaign. Some of my favorite declarations include the following:

n “You have to conclude that it is a safer and wiser course to respond by blogging than to go through “official channels.” I think it depends on the situation at hand including such factors as the industry and what and who is at stake.

n “Blogging is cheaper and more effective than most marketing programs in use today.” This is a serious overstatement in my opinion, especially since they don’t offer up any proof. To me, a blog is a communication channel or tool in which to implement a marketing, PR, and communication campaign – not the plan itself.

n “Blogging is unquestionably less expensive than traditional ad and PR campaigns and keeps proving-as it did to the Firefox team-to be more effective.” Firstly, driving traffic to a blog costs money. Additionally, citing one example of a tech industry company (a web browser nonetheless) who has successfully utilized a blog as a primary marketing and communications tool as proof of blogging as the most effective ad and PR campaign is irresponsible.

Scoble and Israel go on to suggest that ROI is not necessary when working with or using blogs. To me, this is the exact reason that replacing all traditional marketing and PR with blogging is not wise. I imagine if you asked any company or organization if ROI matters to them when it comes to their marketing campaigns, they would say that it is imperative. I think the authors’ bias is especially apparent when they say “many traditional marketers are for the most part in a denial phase and refuse to acknowledge the public’s deep-seeded distaste for much of what they do in traditional channels.” Perhaps it isn’t the “denial” of the marketers but their need to address things as ROI and measurable results.

One of Scoble and Israel’s own examples illustrates this point. Joe Wikert of “Average Joe” said, “Well, I’d be hard pressed to give you any specifics here,” when asked about how blogging has helped his business (Wiley publications). That is why traditional marketing matters.

Another area that left me confused was their position on employee blogging. At one point they state, “Employees who blog need to understand clearly what they can and cannot talk about and be particularly prudent in that area.” This seems counter to the authors’ earlier arguments.

They go to suggest corporate blogging policies to check out including Sun Microsystems’s. I thought they were against this. They say employers should give employees guidelines but also freedom and incentive to become “world-class bloggers.” To me, it appears that they are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

According to Scoble and Israel, “Blogging creates a general perception of an enlightened employer, one who wants to hear constituent opinions and is willing to adjust accordingly.” Where is the proof of this?

On this same point, they say employees should be allowed to blog, not just the CEO or senior level official. “Instead of trying to speak in a single contrived voice, your company will sing with many voices, and they will sing in harmony.” Again, where is the proof of this? To make a declaration this important, some evidence is necessary as this goes against most integrated marketing and communications theory.

Finally, one small point that I thought was rather surprising. Scoble and Israel say “that risks of publishing your contact information are exaggerated.” To me, this is seems irresponsible. I don’t know if it because I am a woman that I am especially leery of this statement, but putting your email address and phone number on the internet in a public way seems to leave you very vulnerable to any number of privacy violations.

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One Comment

  1. Thanks for your thoughtful critique of our book. You are correct in that it is a one-sided approach. I’m afraid you skipped over the introduction, where we tried to make clear in the first two paragraphs that we were blogging champions, and that, while we worked to be fair and accurate the book presented the case for business blogging, as the subtitle of the book also emphasized.


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