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Corporate Blogging: What is the Right Answer?

April 27, 2007 - 5 Comments

I went to the Portfolio magazine launch party last night in San Francisco and chatted with some nice Portfolio people (Kevin Maney, Joanne Lipman, Blaise Zerega), some industry and Cisco colleagues and some other reporters, including Dan Farber and Tom Foremski.One of the conversations that I had was on the topic of corporate blogs. As you may know, at Cisco, we have a handful of blogs and the bloggers blog on pretty much anything they want. We have a mobility blog, this blog, a high tech policy blog (our first blog and one that I started in February of 2005) and we also do “event blogs” including the Partners Summit and Cisco at ITU Telecom World. IMHO, I think we do a decent job of giving some flavor of what we are interested in and doing in each of these areas. To be sure, there is a LOT more going on inside and around Cisco and there is much more to say than just on these blogs. We haven’t yet, however, provided a platform for any employee to start and create their own blog. This is a suggestion that was made to me by a reporter.Being in the media relations business, one of my first instincts is to be a bit paranoid, so, of course, I responded that it would certainly be good for you, as a reporter, for any and every Cisco employee to blog about whatever they wanted (what great potential copy, right?), but from a corporate perspective there is a loss of control of messaging and focus and direction…potentially, that is.However, there is something to be said for letting a smart engineer or marketer (we have many, many of them) blog on their interests in say, IPv6, or IP video or, really, whatever. The argument made to me was that the blogs that aren’t interesting and aren’t well maintained aren’t going to get read, so no harm done. There would, however, be a few or more that would rise to the top and would be a good place for technology or industry conversations to take place. This made an impact on me. It is what Google does, what Sun does, what Microsoft does and what IBM does. Not that Cisco isn’t afraid to go it alone, but clearly these major companies are “comfortable” in letting their employees blog…on anything. We LOVE our employees at Cisco (as our CEO says, “our most important asset.”), and after all I am one of them, so I’m going to take this discussion to heart and start exploring ways to let more blogs bloom at Cisco and let the chips fall where they may. If you don’t see a lot more blogs from us in the future, you can take that as a measure of my influence.

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  1. John, I support your effort to encourage more employee bloggers. IMHO net net it would be healthy for the company, adding to our already strong sense of openness with customers. Let me know if I can help.

  2. It's good to see this issue being discussed openly. As a UK blogger I am keen to see more companies blogging but am convinced the best catalyst is the likes of Cisco et al showing how it can be done, and openly discussing their concerns.

  3. I agree, that the Human Network"" campaign needs to move beyond professional PR spin, and get a real voice.I wrote the following column on my blog, regarding the need to re-imagine Cisco's public voice.Re-Imagine Cisco: the Human Network Voice"

  4. As a Cisco employee I applaud the fact that we go beyond just enabling 'the human network' but we encourage and take part in it. I look forward to being part of this initiative.

  5. John, it was good chatting with you and Dan Farber is right, let your employees blog without any restrictions (except the obvious ones about financial matters). People need time to find their blog voice, so it is important that they have a safe and welcoming environment. Once they do, they can provide big benefits to a company because it shows the in-house expertise. And, very importantly, it is great in recruiting people, because peole want to work with smart people in thought leadership positions.