Holmes Report Blog

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Don’t All Hop on the Bandwagon: The Media Center has “morphed” its group blog, morph, which includes postings by several PR execs, including Ketchum’s Paul Rand, Weber Shandwick’s Chris Perry, and the alarmingly prolific Steve Rubel. Paul has an interesting post about a recent panel he moderated featuring executives from IBM and McDonald’s extolling the virtues of blogging.

“I was surprised how progressive these leading companies have become on the topic. Everyone of them articulated—and seem to be following—the need for ‘transparency’ in communicating both internally and externally…. The audience was feverishly taking notes during the discussion. You could see it in their faces: If IBM, McDonalds and others get this, they’d better go on board quickly too.”

Not too quickly, I hope. The line between getting on board and jumping on the bandwagon is a fine one, as I believe we saw during the first Internet revolution. I can’t help thinking that we’re going to see a flurry of companies starting blogs because everyone else has one, without thinking through the consequences or (more to the point) the commitment to transparency and dialogue that’s necessary. Those blogs will quickly be seen to be inauthentic, and the companies will do themselves more harm than good.

I know it’s Paul’s job to help companies get this right, but too many companies prefer short cuts to long, arduous journeys, particularly if those journeys require (as the journey to blogging does for most companies) a cultural change. It’s why more companies would rather donate a few million dollars to charity than become holistically socially responsible. It’s why they’d rather spin than invest the time and energy necessary to build relationships.

Years ago I visited with Southwest Airlines, and one of the company’s HR people told me that every now and again it hosted an open day for executives from other companies to talk about its wonderful, unique culture. The outsiders would listen to stories about the importance of treating people with dignity and making a sense of humor a requirement for new recruits, and then ask questions like: “Do you call your people employees or associates.” They thought they could learn the words without bothering with the music. But the magic is in the music.

The same is true of blogging. And I think a lot of companies are going to sing off-key… prompting a Simon Cowell reaction from their readers.


  • At 3:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

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