Corporate blogs: still too many actors out there

The Ikea post (sorry, Dutch only) made me think of the role an advertising agency can (and in my opinion should) play in writing a corporate/business blog. I wrote this post with Ikea in my mind.

I think a (real) corporate blog should not be written by an advertising/PR agency employee (unless it’s the agency’s blog itself of course). The main reason will be the fact that this person will lack some of most the important elements: passion, authority and credibility to represent the company to the outside world.

I’m not saying an employee or an external agency cannot be passionated about a topic. But he/she will miss things like the company buzz, other colleagues telling stories about contacts they had with clients, encounters in the elevator, rumours and stuff that happens on the company floor. The outside world will see this person as a representative from an agency, but not as someone from the company itself. It will be much easier for a real employee to become an authority, speak with a credible voice (based on inherent knowlegde) and be the face of the company.

Does that mean an advertising/PR agency cannot help a client to start a company blog? Of course not! They have been communication partners in the past, and there is no reason this should change. An agency can analyse the company’s needs and determine the goal of the blog. In the end, the set-up, layout and all the necessary tools (RSS, tags etc) are important, but not key (I don’t like blogs which are too slick, but I’m sure creatives will strongly disagree with me on that).

The most important aspects will be the company’s culture towards open communication and the corporate blog authors/bloggers.


A company (and not only the agency) must truly believe in their employees, their products, their service(s) and their brand. If so, there’s no reason to be afraid of the reactions you will receive from your customers. I think this is where most corporate blogs fail. The client isn’t ready for it, yet the agency already starts a blog. And why? Because agency’s realize more and more that blogs are a good medium to enhance communication. But the client isn’t ready which has as a result that the blog that has been created is of poor quality. And that’s where they disappoint their readers.

Do realize that I do not feel as a guardian of the blogosphere, nor do I think that anyone else should act in that role. If someone wants to call his website a blog, regardless of its content, please feel very free to do so.

But as a user, a reader, I want to communicate with a brand. I want to talk with the real company and feel connected with it. And I feel disappointed if I can’t. I want to read what they are doing, thinking, hear it’s designers, listen to its employees, read what their fans do all over the world with their products… I want the brand/company talking to me. I’m not interested in their agency. I only want the real stuff.


Where will you find these amazing bloggers to write your blog? Well, I see at least 3 options (all can run at the same time, but a subset can be picked as well).

You should be able to execute all points below with or without the assistance from an agency.

1) You let a subset or all your employees blog.

2) You hire one or more bloggers.

3) You use bloggers who are already writing an unofficial blog (let’s go for an Ikea blog).

Letting all your employees blog isn’t something that can be done in a week. If you want lots op people to blog, you will have to think about blogging software, run training sessions, maybe set up an internal wiki and provide a list with corporate do’s and dont’s.

Sun, IBM and Microsoft have done this in in the past, resulting in thousands of employees all covering their little piece of the company cake. The roll-out of a project like this will be huge, but is also a cool and rewarding thing to do. If you pick this option, make it a long term strategic choice. The implementation will take a long time.

Number 2 would be my favourite to kick off. I would create a platform like Microsoft’s Channel 9 (altough he left the company, let’s call it the Scoble way). A mix of current employees and diehard bloggers would be a great team to start with. Bloggers should at least be equipped with the necessary (mobile) multimedia equipment. I would let them interview employees from all over the world: designers, staff, drivers, engineers, recruitment, markteting, etc. This however introduces the challenge that initially you will have to invest in embedding that blogger in your company.

But boy, there would be so much you can talk about. And what’s being created by this would result in valuable user feedback, leading to inspiration for the blogteam, the designers, the marketing people and so on.

Besides writing your own blog, there’s an endless world of fans and consumers out there. Talk to them, give them linklove, invite them when you have something they would like to know. That will cause people to write about your company, its products, its services. And the good thing: it’s free and it’s already out there. So why wait?

Advertising agencies can be very important advisory parties, but they can’t just play or pretend to be the client. The company is the player, their agency can be a coach. We all know a succesfull team has both players and a coach.

PS: my contact information can be found in the right upper corner. 😉

[tags]corporate blogging, Ikea, business blogging, marketing, advertising agency, Channel 9[/tags]

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  1. ronny says:

    … and that’s why we hired at least 4 people to write our blog: Maizenaman, Chapelure Chantal, Tapioca Tony&Trees and Bloembloem Baby. All payed very well of course!

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