Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Beware of... the Riveting BLOG!

A post from CHENer Katie Walker...

I have to admit that the first time I had a friend say that he “blogged” the other day and that I should check it out, I quickly dismissed his request with, “No thanks.” Little did I know at the time that I was passing up a chance to expose myself to one of the most contagious and facile means of communication from one person to a seemingly limitless audience. The “Web log,” as it is formally known, is as simple as it sounds: a log of experiences or thoughts, located on the Web.

So what’s the point? Why do people write in blogs if they can issue a press release, or be interviewed by a reporter?

The answer is in the voice of the blogger. Human contact. People enjoy reading about others’ opinions, interests, beliefs and personalities. It’s all about connecting with the creator, who is not afraid to communicate in a personal, direct way with his or her audience. Who is the CEO behind the revolutionary ideas? Who is the engineer behind the intricate products? It’s only human to be interested in the prolific minds behind the cutting-edge technology we have at our disposal. But in the case of emerging companies, here’s an important tip: the key to a good blog, as in any article or news story, are the elements of originality and controversy.

Probably one of the greatest aspects of blogs is the ability to choose to start a dialogue with the creator. An opinionated, yet informative post can facilitate further discussion on a topic, thus creating more traffic and exposure for a company in a particular market. Blogging “networks” are created amongst those centered around similar interests, and people can link to others’ blogs to continue an ongoing discussion. This observation was discussed at an event titled, “Wikis, RSS, and Blogs - New Ways to Solve Old Problems,” held last month by the Mass Tech Leadership Council.

But as this virtual journal entry becomes a regular means for updating the market on important news or events in a company’s life, we mustn’t forget that these logs do take place in a public forum. To be candid, somewhat less “desirable” news issued to the public will not go ignored, and could quickly become the “white elephant” of every forthcoming post. As in every relationship, in the case of a blogger addressing his or her audience with bad news, it’s essential to recall that honesty is the best policy. Avoiding or hiding the truth from readers may prove to propagate animosity and suspicion not only regarding the blog in question, but also the company and those associated therewith.

That said, mum’s the word when it comes to anything NDA. One slip and you could find yourself in a spot more controversy than you originally bargained for.

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