How blogging could save your big organisation

Big market-dominating companies don’t have a great need to promote themselves; big government departments don’t need to promote themselves at all. But a lot of managers or officials can see the problems created by poor (or even non-existent) communication, and get frustrated at their inability to make it better through the usual, official channels.
A blog, official or private, could be the cure you’re looking for. In a single sitting, you could be up-and-running with a website to air your news and views, sitting on a state-of-the-art publishing platform. Granted, big organisations often have problems with proliferating microsites. But one more, rather than making things any worse, could make things a lot better.

Curing a crap website
Big organisations generally produce bad websites. Too much content, too many microsites, too little consistency. There’s probably a valiant web editor trying to hold it together, but the opposing forces are often too great. Navigation breaks down, consistency collapses, domain names proliferate.
A blogger who knows his or her stuff can become an expert guide through the chaos. They might offer pointers to new content which isn’t otherwise made obvious; they might highlight older material which suddenly fits the news agenda; they will almost certainly maintain a more consistent style of writing and presentation. Chances are, their blog will have better search and navigation than the main corporate site.
Microsoft is generally recognised as being the big company with the most enlightened policy on blogging. It may not be entirely coincidental that its sprawling website is so hard to get around.
Curing crap corporate tools
If you ask a corporate IT manager about Content Management Systems, he’ll probably start talking about six- or even seven-figure budgets, and dates months into the future. This isn’t (necessarily) because corporate IT managers are crap; more likely because the organisation can’t offer the structure and process which content management generally needs to succeed.
This doesn’t help you if you’re an eager civil servant, trying to get your message out – and, if you’re really enlightened, to get some feedback in. But what is a blog, if it isn’t a basic ‘content management’ application? You can have a blog up and running in a few minutes, free of charge… and the interface is almost certainly better than anything your corporate colleagues will concoct.
In a corporate context, a paid-for platform like Typepad might be more enticing. You get certain guarantees which you couldn’t really expect from a free service, and in terms of corporate budgets, £7.50 a month hardly merits a second thought. Desktop blogging clients like w.bloggar make it even easier to write and publish content, in an environment which won’t scare the can-I-write-in-Word contingent.
Curing crap marketing
It’s very easy to hate Microsoft, especially given that it’s run by the world’s richest man. But take a moment to read some of the development teams’ blogs, or individual employees’, and you’ll see a company full of people dedicated to doing a good job, and making the IT-driven world better. Which does Microsoft get more marketing value from: its advertising campaigns, dinosaur heads and everything else, or the ‘one of us!’ straight talking of Robert Scoble‘s blog (hosted on a free service)?
Plus, a blog can work wonders for your search engine ranking. Search engines like blogs: they are well structured, they are easy to keep track of, they have lots of fresh content, they usually have the keywords in the page name and title. Take my own case: despite the existence of several more famous Simon Dicksons, my blog jumped on to the first page of Google results within about three weeks.
But your organisation is so big, and so well-known, it doesn’t need to worry about search rank – right? Wrong. More and more people are coming online, with very limited IT skills. Your traffic data will show just how many people are searching for your organisation’s name, to find its website. If you’ve never looked, be prepared for a surprise. And if they aren’t finding content from an official source, who knows what they’re finding instead?

3 thoughts on “How blogging could save your big organisation”

  1. Corporations and institutions may not officially want things disrupted, the prevailing culture may be to do as much as possible to resist, but there will always be restless, bright sparks within them who want to start changing things.
    Because blogs cost so little, and can seem relatively harmless at first, blogs can help people to start inciting change this under the radar of the command-and-control bouncers and nay-sayers.

  2. I have to agree, Antony. My natural position was always to think the best of the organisational mindset… but I’ve learned by experience that sometimes, the only way to get things done is to ‘go disruptive’. It often results in nastiness down the line. But ‘no pain, no gain’, as they say.
    And I can still remember when websites were an under-the-radar activity. I find it truly hard to believe that a major UK department of state allowed me, then an untested 23 year old, to be their official spokesman to the rest of the planet. Albeit a planet populated by geeks at the time. 😉

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