A Blog (short for web log) is a public communication that enables interactions between the author and their readers.
Whilst not all bloggers in the public arena allow comments and dialogue, the vast majority do, indeed it is this interaction (or the possibility of the interaction) that makes the blog different from other communication tools. The difference that often makes the difference.
Recently I have been reading some internal blogs by senior leaders in an organization, and it is obvious that blogs are being used as a sterile attempt to provide communications masquerading as a personal blog, when in fact its a top down communication.
The internal or corporate blog
Unlike many traditional, top down styles of communications, blogs offer leaders in business and organizations the opportunity to connect with people at different levels within the organization. To be able to communicate, share ideas, receive feedback that just is not available through more traditional channels of communication. To blog or not to blog, well that is a decision that can only be made by individuals, any content needs to be authentic to their leadership style and approach.
It’s all about engagement
Blogs provide senior leaders (and other key influencers) in an organization or business with the perception of being accessible. It also provide a wonderful feedback channel. It is this access that enables people to believe that they can interact, and share concerns and ideas. Put simple an effective blog and internal blogging strategy provides a valuable and most importantly low cost and high impact engagement tool. They say that “feedback is the breakfast of champions” – well create champions in your leadership team!
In many businesses we read about HR leaders and business leaders say that they want to increase employee engagement, and yet they do not use the simplest tools available to help people FEEL engaged.
Employee Engagement in times of change
When an organization is under the most pressure to do “more with less”, having “right sized”, or when business targets are not being met, this is the time that communication needs to be increased. Without feedback, articles and blogs are not communication…. but broadcast. And most people soon learn to stop reading or listening to broadcasts.
Wikipedia defines “Communication” as –
Communication (from Latin commūnicāre, meaning “to share” ) is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of ideas, feelings, intentions, attitudes, expectations, perceptions or commands, as by speech, gestures, writings, behaviour. It is the meaningful exchange of information between two or more participants.
The informal nature of blogs can help to develop:
• employee participation
• free discussion of issues
• direct communication between various layers of an organization
• a sense of community
If the communication is more of a broadcast (is one way, with no option for people to comment)… how is it communication? if it is not an exchange? It is certainly not a blog.
7 rules for effective internal or corporate blogging
To use blogs as an EFFECTIVE communication strategy the following are important psychological indicators:
1) written by the author
2) uploaded and published by the author (not by a member of their team or marketing)
3) comments are encouraged
4) comments are responded to in a timely way
5) blogs are PERSONAL views… not necessarily using the same language as business policy or marketing speak
6) usually written in the first person
7) regular… not “every Wednesday at 11am”… but weekly…monthly
The power of internal corporate blogs
As log ago as 2007 research conducted by UMBC Ebiquity Research Group http://ebiquity.umbc.edu/paper/html/id/343/On-the-Structure-Properties-and-Utility-of-Internal-Corporate-Blogs found that
“While at the minimum blogs empower employees to publicly voice opinion and share expertise, collectively they improve collaboration and enable internal business intelligence.”
This can only happen when 2 way dialogue is encouraged, and the writer is authentic about their style and content (Authentic leadership)