Tech Blog event follow-up
As I wrote yesterday, I attended the TechBlogs event last night in Cambridge. This was a great event, with good networking and an excellent discussion. The panel members led the discussion, but there was a lot of audience participation which made it interactive. Kudos to Scott Kirsner for moderating the discussion and keeping it moving.
Some of the more interesting subjects discussed:
Objectivity of bloggers vs. typical journalistic standards
Journalists (at least good ones) have professional ethics around avoiding conflicts of interest that may color their reporting. Bloggers usually disclose their conflicts in notes at the end of their posts, but often write about things with inherent conflicts of interest -- investments they have made, companies where they work, etc. This difference seemed to wrankle Jimmy Guterman, but I think that perspective is what is valuable about blogging. My rule of thumb is that I want to write my blog as if I was talking to someone at a cocktail party after having one (and only one) beer. I should be open and relaxed, but still conscious of my professional and personal image. I write mostly off the top of my head and don't pretend to be objective, thorough, or conflict free. I try to point out conflicts, but can't represent myself as a journalist. Unfortunately, journalist bloggers have to represent their professional side, which is as a journalist. Scott Kirsner, who writes for the Globe, says that he tries to write his blog posts to the same standard as he writes his Globe column. I think he does that well. Best line: Don Dodge, quoting Mike Moritz of Sequoia -- "No conflict, no interest." (Perhaps it's really a quote from John Doerr -- just trying to be thorough!).
Sanitizing corporate blog entries vs. showing your personality
There was a general discussion of corporate blogs and CEO blogs. How sanitized should they be to toe the corporate PR line? Or, should the CEOs or employees be free to state their own views? And, should CEOs write their own blogs posts, or can someone else write them on their behalf? I think that blogs have to show a personal perspective. That's what the readers expect. Something sanitized will be boring. Of course, anything representing the company has to be professional, meet legal requirements, etc. An old boss of mine once pointed out to me that although some people in the company work in the Marketing Department (big 'M' marketing), everyone at the company works in "little 'm' marketing." So, if you blog about your job or company, you have to be professional. But, still be yourself.
Blogs, Podcasts, and Video Blogs
There was a discussion of different forms of media that people can use to reach an audience. Blogs (written), podcasts (audio), and video blogs all have their place. It was pointed out that blogs have the biggest audience and that it falls of dramatically when you go to audio or video. I think that this is because our tools are more text oriented (search, indexing, etc.) and because our senses are also more text oriented (you can read faster than most podcasts or videos move, you can scan a written document more effectively than a podcast or video, etc.). Someone commented that CEOs used to be primarily communicators verbally, in front of groups. Blogging requires writing skills, which not everyone has. So, brush up on those writing skills so you can be a good blogger and executive. I know from my kids' schools that writing is emphasized a lot more formally than when I was in school. Even at MIT there is more writing now than when I was an undergraduate.