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The Corporate Blogging Book: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know to Get It Right Hardcover – August 3, 2006
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With citizen bloggers multiplying by the minute, corporations are keen to co-opt the authenticity of this online publishing phenomenon. But while many already understand the concept (GM's Bob Lutz, who wrote the foreword, is a blogger), many more are struggling to make sense of a fairly simple proposition: use your blog as a meaningful conduit to your customers, and watch them become your best advocates; use it as an outlet for stale press releases, and watch the world yawn or walk away. Weil provides background on blogs, offers tips on writing them ("invite a conversation"), addresses common concerns ("what if my employees are blogging?"), discusses tools and technology (including podcasts and wikis), and offers a cheat sheet for convincing the boss that it's time to blog. Bonus resources include sample policies and guidelines, design tips, a glossary, and more. Short and sweet, this is more enthusiastic and personably written--and includes fewer CYA disclaimers--than Nancy Flynn's Blog Rules (2006) and is more appropriate for the corporate crowd than Andy Wibbels' Blogwild! (2006). Keir Graff
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She makes a convincing case for the corporate blog. Smart, witty, and accessible. -- Kirkus Reports
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Wisely, Weil assumes that her reader knows nothing about blogging. She begins with the basics. In fact, in the first chapter, she responds to the "Top Twenty Questions About Corporate Blogging." At this point, I presume to add that almost everything she says about corporate blogging is relevant to non-corporate blogging, with the obvious exceptions being information and suggestions with regard to creating an institutional blog mechanism. But even so, such mechanisms seek to attract and involve human beings and must thus be designed and administered with a full accommodation of basics.
With all due respect to the value of the FAQ section, each reader will have other questions and Weill is well aware of that as she begins her narrative with a "quick romp through the corporate blogosphere" (i.e. background and early development), addresses common fears about blogging (e.g. allocation of resources, contingent legal liability, loss of control.... "the mother of all fears"), determination of ROB (i.e. return on blog), tools and technology needed, and "making the case for blogging to the boss." Along the way, Weil includes (in Chapter 7) her "Top Ten Tips to Write an Effective Business Blog." Then in the final chapter, she shares her thoughts about "what's next," followed by a "Bonus Resources" section that, all by itself, is worth much more than the cost of the book. One man's opinion, its value is increased by a factor of at least ten if the material is absorbed and digested within the frame-of-reference established by the ten chapters that precede it. Suggestion: Read the entire book in chapter sequence, highlighting whichever passages catch your eye; then, after reading Chapter 10, set the book aside for a few days before you focus on the "Bonus Resources" section.
Many readers will especially appreciate Weill's provision of summaries of key points made by others such as a list of nine ways to use an internal blog suggested by Shel Holz (Pages 31-32) and the "Thomas Nelson Blogging Guidelines" (Pages 165-168) that, according to Weill, make clear "what the business reason is for encouraging [Nelson] employees to blog: to open the door and offer a peak inside one of the world's largest publishers." There is also an abundance of real-world examples throughout the narrative that illustrate the given key point, be it a "do" or a "don't."
Only after having read and then re-read this book did I conclude that, at least for me, the most valuable material is provided in Chapter 4, "A Baker's Dozen: 12 Plus 1 Ways to Use a Corporate Blog." Once again, as she does in previous and subsequent chapters, Weill inserts a brief and insightful excerpt from another source: Hugh Macleod's response to the question, "What's a Global Microbrand?" By the time the reader has arrived at #13, she or he should not be surprised by Weill's assertion that "blogs are the new corporate Web site" and there are still 140 more pages ahead that offer additional evidence of how effective corporate blogging for all organizations (regardless of size or nature) can help them to increase and enhance relationships between and among all their stakeholders.
Obviously, it remains for corporate bloggers to (a) determine for themselves which of the 13 are most appropriate, (b) cross-rank their importance to achieving the given business objectives, (c) create an electronic infrastructure, and then (d) broaden and deepen internal and/or external participation, with primary emphasis on convenience in terms of both connectivity and interactivity. If asked to select a single source for information and counsel on how to introduce and then sustain effective corporate blogging, my suggestion would beDebbie Weil's book.
Writing a book on corporate blogging is not an easy task. A lot of books have been written when the "hype cycle" on blogging was at its highest and not all of those books were excellent or even relevant for that matter. The author here had an even more daunting task; to write about a new medium but also try to explain how blogging works in a corporate environment.
I definitely think Debbie Weil has managed to write a business book on an activity that was/still is considered as something "16 year olds do" by most business communicators and professionals. Thanks to her extensive network of business people & leaders in the blogosphere she has managed to collect an impressive amount of case studies from the corporate world.
This is not a book about theories or the promise that sometime the market will be one huge conversation... This is about return on investment, CEOs who blog and explains the why and how of business blogging.
Next to case studies from a multitude of companies Debbie takes the time to guide the reader to the more down to earth side of corporate blogging. She dedicates a whole chapter to "how to write for a blog" and another one on the more technological side of the medium. But even if blogging is closely linked to the internet and technology, Debbie never falls into the bits & bytes trap; all is explained with business people in mind.
Debbie also asks the right questions and answers them. She is not a blind believer but knows how to filter the correct information on the topic from her multitude of sources. Of course she also talks from experience. Her online presence is very strong and her blog is a "have to read" for people in Marketing and Communications. She doesn't hesitate to cover difficult topics such as the loss of control in online communications, legal pitfalls and questions if all CEOs should blog (of course not).
In the last chapter titled "What's Next ?" she even gives a potential view of what the next steps could be in the "new media" adventure of corporations. She covers such topics as citizen journalism, Web2.0 for business and the end of corporate speak. The final add on to the book is also something that every company can use as a source of inspiration; an extensive collection of the most well know corporate blogging policies from companies like IBM, Forrester and Sun topped with legal resources, blog design guidelines and references to other books on the subject.
What I liked most about this book is that it is written by someone who knows how to talk to business people and covers the corporate side of blogging through case studies, examples and interviews of professionals who have a real experience on the subject.
My only regret is that Debbie Weil didn't go deeper into the subject of RSS or Really Simple Syndication. It is a difficult topic to explain, especially in a business context but it is the single most important tool for business communicators that I have seen appearing in my 13 year career. And because it is so linked with blogging I would have liked to see more depth in the chapter covering it.
There, I included a "negative" so this review turns out to be objective after all.
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