Archive for “October, 2006”

Edelman issues short mea culpa – no explanations

Richard Edelman has just issued a short statement on his blog, expressing his regret and responsibility for the Wal-Mart Flog* Fiasco.

No explanations – he just said he was sorry.

(My gut feeling, however, is that the apology is a little thin, and the debate has been going on a little long, for this to be sufficient. But let’s see. Perhaps the blogosphere will be appeased.)

* Flog = “fake blog”, coined by Tom Siebert of Media Post Publications Correction: coined by Matthew Oliphant in February 2005.

Open Source Symposium in Toronto

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Seneca College hosts 6th annual Free Software and Open Source Symposium

Toronto, October 9, 2007 — Seneca’s Free Software and Open Source Symposium (FSOSS) is an internationally recognized, two-day event that brings together educators, developers, students and others from across North America to discuss the latest developments in free software and open source issues, learn new technologies and promote the use of free and open source software.

Open Source is a philosophy and practice that is changing the way software is developed. By encouraging collaboration, often between parties from around the world, Open Source developers are creating free software that can be continuously updated and shared. For many developers, Open Source represents a revolution. About 300 attendees are expected to take part in 6th annual FSOSS taking place at Seneca@York (70 The Pond Road) on Oct 25th and 26th.
This year’s FSOSS keynote speaker is Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat, the long-time leading distributor of the Linux operating system, and founder and CEO of Lulu.com.

Among the speakers are guests from Athabasca University, Creative Commons Canada, Environment Canada, Facebook, IBM, Microsoft, Mozilla, Nokia, Open Office, Penn State University, SAP Labs, Shuttleworth Foundation, Seneca College, Software Freedom Law Centre, Sourceforge, Transylvania University, University of Toronto, York University and more.
“Seneca’s Symposium is a fantastic event for people who want to get connected with open source development in all its many forms,” said Mike Shaver, Chief Evangelist at the Mozilla Corporation. “We’re excited to meet up with other passionate developers, advocates and users of all kinds.”

Presentations include technical, legal, social and business topics. There will also be two-hour, hands-on workshops offered. Speakers, schedule, registration details and video from last year’s event are available at http://fsoss.senecac.on.ca
“Open Source is about more than just software; it’s about community and collaboration,” noted David Humphrey, symposium organizer. “This year’s event reflects the expansion of these concepts into business, culture, government, media, and beyond.”

In the last few years, Open Source has become an integral part of the training offered at Seneca’s School of Computer Studies. New courses and partnerships with Open Source companies like Mozilla have exposed Seneca students to the many growing careers in this field. Since the first FSOSS in 2001, Seneca has become a recognized leader in exposing students to open source software (such as Linux and the Mozilla Firefox browser) and teaching the tools and techniques to enable students to get involved in the development of large open source software development projects.
More students choose Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology than any other college in Canada. With eight campuses across the GTA, Seneca provides internationally and nationally recognized career education and training key to graduate success in the global economy. Every Seneca diploma, certificate and applied degree program is developed to a high academic standard, in consultation with industry, integrated with information technology, combined with technical and transferable skills, and reinforced by opportunities for ongoing education and re-training. www.senecac.on.ca

For more information:
Seneca College
Media Relations
416-491-5050, ext. 7017

Pols using blogs – but not enabling comments

This seems a bit self-defeating, and I don’t really think you can truthfully call a website created using blog content management software a “blog” if the comments function is not enabled. That would just be what we in the business call a “cheap website”.

I was drawn to make this distinction by this story about Long Beach, CA Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske and her so-called “blog”. She talks, but no talking back allowed. Again, this is simply what’s known as a “website”.

People – it’s the two-way communication that makes the blog, not the software!

Closer to (my) home, the following contenders for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada are employing similar strategies (i.e. cheap websites) but calling them “blogs”:

Michael Ignatieff (to get to this page you click a link that says “read the whole blog”, but no comments)
Martha Hall Findlay (written by her, but no longer identified as a “blog”, no comments)

And the only one who’s actually calling a blog a blog: Gerrard Kennedy.

Are you doing your homework?

I’m talking about whether you are monitoring the blogosphere for news about your business – if you have a corporate blog or not. If regular searches on Blogger’s Blog Search or Technorati or Newsgator are not part of your communications routine, you are not doing your homework.

I’d like to give you some examples. Yesterday I posted about Wal-Mart’s fake blog (not because I hate Wal-Mart, but because I wanted to use it as an illustration of why honest communication on business blogs is the only way to go. In an earlier discussion I had pointed out that the risks of ghostwriting blogs were too great – i.e. bad PR when you’re inevitably unmasked. It would seem my thesis was correct). I mentioned Wal-Mart’s PR agency in the post. Over the last 24 hours, no fewer than five employees of that agency from three separate locations visited this blog after using some of the search tools mentioned above. Whether they were looking for news of their own business or that of their clients’, I don’t know (which is why I didn’t name them in this post)*.

My point? One of the biggest PR agencies in North America monitors the blogosphere because they KNOW what’s said here matters and that they ignore it at their clients’ peril. These days, by the time a blog-broken story hits the mainstream media, it has serious momentum.

A couple more examples: yesterday I also posted a list of companies included in the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Index. Would you like to know how many firms included in that list of 40 are actually monitoring the blogosphere on a regular basis? Two. Intel and Wells Fargo (employees from both firms visited twice).

Monitoring the blogosphere is even more important than having your own corporate blog, it’s the bare minimum. If you don’t know what people are saying about you, how can you respond? If you don’t know how many links there are to your blogs, how do you know how well you are doing, what the awareness level is?

This is one of the biggest reasons we got into this business – other firms are so focussed on the blogging solution, the software, the platform. Hardly anyone is talking about how to teach companies blog communication and technology strategy, making sure they actually know how to work these tools to their advantage.

All the bells and whistles in world ain’t much use if you don’t know how to use ‘em.

Update: true to form, three days after I wrote this post, the partnership between Edelman and Technorati was announced – they’re offering a global service to monitor international blogs, which will be available to the public in 2007.

*It is, of course, possible that the PR agency was also monitoring on behalf of some of their other clients on the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Index. Nevertheless, the best-case scenario is that 10% of the companies on that list are monitoring blogs.

WalMart gets slapped

Still think it’s a good idea for someone to ghost write a blog?

Then perhaps you should read about all the bad press WalMart is getting for setting up a fake blog (I had originally noted that the prominent sponsorship badge to the right was a new addition. This was incorrect. The “Working Families for Wal-Mart” sponsorship of the blog has always been made clear. However, at issue is the fact that “Working Families” is actually an organization that Wal-Mart created. The whole trip was paid for by the company). Apparently the whole thing was cooked up by Edleman. You’d think they’d know better.

More bad press coverage available at:
Business Week Online

The Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki

Yes, it’s a mouthful, but also an excellent idea, that being:

A directory of Fortune 500 companies that have business blogs, defined as: active public blogs by company employees about the company and/or its products.
According to our research, 40 (8%) of the Fortune 500 are blogging as of 10/05/06

So who are they? I’m gonna cheat and give you a complete list. But remember: this will quickly become out of date, so don’t come visiting in December and complain that I’m missing someone big. Like the quote says, “as of 10/05/06″. To visit the blogs themselves, please go straight to the Fortune 500 Business Blog Wiki – I love you, but not enough to cut and paste all those links!

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.
Amazon.com Inc.
Cisco Systems, Inc.
CSC Team
Cox Communications
Dell, Inc
Eastman Kodak Company
eBay
Electronic Data Systems
Ford Motor Company
General Electric Company
General Mills, Inc
General Motors Corporation
Google
Hewlett-Packard Company
Honeywell International
ING Group
Intel Corporation
International Business Machines
McDonald’s Corporation
Microsoft Corporation
Motorola Inc
Nike Inc
Oracle Corporation
Southwest Airlines
Sprint
Starwood Hotels & Resorts
Sun Microsystems Inc
Texas Instruments
Time Warner Inc
The Boeing Company
The McGraw-Hill Companies
Tribune Company
Viacom International Inc
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Wells Fargo & Company
Whole Foods Market, Inc.
Xerox Corporation
Verizon Communications
Yahoo!

(I note with interest that, in the original list on the F500BBWiki, whoever was charged with typing in the list chose to editorialize a little… primarily by indicating that the Motorola Snowboarding Team blog was “lame”)

Old Media hearts New Media

Len Downie, editor of the Washington Post, said that his reporters love newsroom blogs for putting them in touch with their readers (“Everyone in our newsroom wants to be a blogger”). This from an article on the Editor and Publisher website, posted October 6th.

Downie went on to say that

The blogs that pick apart every article that the Post produces are a good thing, because they “keep the paper honest” and, even if their commentary isn’t positive, bring people to the site.

And speculated

that perhaps in the future content sharing between old media and new media would be less of a one-way street, with print media taking cues and integrating ideas from multimedia and blogs.

Which dovetails nicely with a recent post from Debbie Weil, in which she asks, Is this an inflection point? The New York Times and Wall Street Journal source TechCrunch to break the news about Google’s possible acquisition of YouTube. Interesting times, indeed!

And Lo, the Branding Was Rolled Out!

Like the new decor? This marks the completion of the SMG branding roll-out. That being said, we still have to unpack into this new space, so give us a day or two to tidy up. In the meantime, there’s plenty of gold in them there archives…

The Ottawa Citizen Tells Us All About Blogging for Dollar$

I understand that today’s Ottawa Citizen was billed as the “Blogging Issue”. In a story by Alexandra Zabjek, the notion of “Blogging for Dollar$” (i.e. accepting advertising or inducements to mention products on personal blogs) was all jumbled up together with corporate blogging. Two pretty big topics in a small space, but I would like to briefly address the first issue by pointing out the following thing:

Some bloggers will bemoan the state of the blogosphere, wherein ads are placed on personal blogs and bloggers are paid money based on their pageviews or unique visitors or whatever. These people are silly and will soon be drowned out by the vast swelling of bloggers eager to cash in. HOWEVER. Blog readers may or may not play along. So you advertising people? Get creative. We need some cool new models for the new space – there will always be a market for your ad dollars if you can do this. (Who knows? The new model may be a reverse of the usual supply and demand – only the best creative, as deemed suitable by top bloggers, will be able to buy space. Not as far-fetched as you might think; top blogs don’t often have to answer to shareholders or meet payroll…)

Now on to the second issue, which is really my focus (talk about burying your lead!) I was very encouraged by the intelligent reasoning re: why blogging is good for firms from Alec Saunders the CEO of iotum, an Ottawa-area communications software company:

“It evolved into a marketing tool for the company when I realized that instead of spending lots of time going out and educating industry analysts or writing white papers on different things, I could simply write a blog entry and it would be read – by my customers and by the press people that I wanted to influence.”

Zabjek goes on to point out that Saunders’ blog is one of the Technorati Top-10 on the topic of VoIP (actually, right now he’s #13, as sorted by authority, but his last post was 15 hours ago, so if he posts again today it may jump back into the Top 10 again), lending credibility and making Saunders a virtual industry expert. And “that translates into recognition for our company,” says Saunders.

Which kind of gets us back to the topic of the ROI of Blogs, doesn’t it?

[side note: I'm off and away now until Monday - which is Thanksgiving here in Canada - so sit tight, I posted twice for you today, hopefully that will tide you over until Tuesday!]