Corporate Blogging: Go Real or Go Home

As frequent readers know, I’m a contrarian when it comes to most things, including corporate blogging. Most companies, it seems, want corporate blogs that are written by junior PR people, repackage corporate good news, and recycle standard corporate messages.

Validating my suspicions, a few months back I had a few inquiries from former marketing teammates asking: “Hey Dave, you seem to know something about CEO / corporate blogging — so should my CEO have a ghost-written blog?”

My answer was a vehement no!

With the standard approach, most corporate blogs are easily identified by would-be readers as “marketing” and accordingly avoided. In fact, according to a recent study by Forrester (subscription required), only 16% of consumers trust corporate blogs, ranking dead last in trust among information channels surveyed.

See this post by corporate blogging expert Debbie Weil, entitled No News Here: Forrester Says Users Don’t Trust Corporate Blogs. Excerpt:

Many corporate blogs are A. boring and B. not credible. They’re written in corporate speak. And they gush about the company or its products or services (what I call widgets). Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff blogs about his new report, encouraging companies “to be thoughtful in how and why you blog.”

And that’s precisely the point I make in my book: NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR WIDGETS!

Unless, of course, your widgets happen to be XML Servers. (Just kidding.) More:

Secondly, saying that consumers don’t trust corporate blogs is kind of like saying that people don’t trust advertising. Well, duh. We’ve been talking about that (cf the Cluetrain Manifesto) for a decade now.

It’s a shame that marketing is becoming a synonym for truthiness. I’ve lamented before about the state of marketing, particularly in software.

My advice:

  • If you’re going to make a corporate blog, go real or go home.
  • There is no point in ghost-written or PR-written blogs.
  • In my view, corporate blogs shouldn’t exist. If you want a corporate blog, go find a few corporate bloggers instead.
  • Encourage those bloggers to write openly and honestly about your industry.
  • Let them ramble off-topic once in a while. You might discover something.

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