Bonding by blogging
On August 1, a guard dog ripped the heads, arms and legs off more than 100 rare teddy bears in an English children’s museum. As commuters chuckled over news of the attack in the next morning’s papers, Michael Jagger, president of Vancouver-based Provident Security & Event Management Corp., was busy posting a brief story and Web link to the BBC’s coverage on his corporate blog. His headline? “One more reason why we do not use guard dogs.” With a few strokes on the keyboard, Jagger’s firm had become just a little more visible on the Web – and lightheartedly reminded his blog readers what makes his service stand out from the competition’s.
Jagger is one of a growing number of CEOs taking to the blogosphere in an effort to create closer bonds with customers and develop credibility among prospects. The ranks of successful corporate bloggers include firms as small as Jagger’s(providentblog.ca)and as large as the world’s biggest automotive manufacturer, General Motors(fastlane.gmblogs.com).
Jagger, who dedicates four hours a week to maintaining his blog, has become a go-to expert on security, boasting 1,000 readers daily. “The blog is part of an entire marketing strategy,” he says, “but there’s no question we’ve got customers because of it.”
Corporate blogs make a small dent in the 75,000 new blogs that are created daily. But a new survey by Makovsky & Co., a New York-based PR and investor relations firm, shows awareness is growing. Some 32% of Fortune 1000 executives believe blogs are gaining credibility as a communications medium, and 22% see them as an excellent way to generate leads and develop a brand.
Still, blogging isn’t for everyone. After much deliberation, Chris Fellbaum, president of Vancouver-based Lonsdale Events, determined that he has neither the time nor the staff capable of providing consistently engaging material. A bad blog, he decided, could be bad for business. Jagger agrees. “Once it’s on the Web,” he says, “it’s an extension of your company.”
Blogging CEOs must also be prepared to deal with criticism, complaints and gossip, which could appear in the “comments” section of their blog. “But even complaints should be viewed as opportunity, not risk,” says Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book.
Ultimately, experts say missing this bandwagon could do more harm than good. “There are very few businesses that shouldn’t continually be marketing and looking for new customers,” says Barry Welford, president of SMM Strategic Marketing in Montreal. “And this format will make you very, very visible.”Published October 1, 2006 · PROFIT Magazine · Written by Kara Aaserud