Posted by Amanda Chapel
A Review of The Corporate Blogging Book
Odd twist: the other day I reviewed a work of fiction that was fabulous because of how well it portrayed reality. Today, regrettably I am reviewing a non-fiction that's absolutely awful because of how much it distorts reality. Excuse me but I'll take an honest lie over a surreptitious fact any day. This review is about the latter. I just read the first chapter of The Corporate Blogging Book by Debbie Weil. Well... Weil ain't real!
How do we know? Did we get Debbie to submit to a polygraph?
Didn't have to. See, a polygraph detects a lie by measuring slight physiological changes that occur in the body when a person is being deceptive. When someone lies, numerous physiological changes occur: increase or decrease in blood volume, increase or decrease of the heart rate, changes in respiration, perspiration. But sometimes the internal psychological conflict of the liar is so bad that it is readily apparent without the need for any apparatus. Sometimes when a girl says "yes," it is completely obvious she means "no." That's what Debbie does with her book. It is an inane "How To" that ironically does more to say "If You're Smart, Don't!"
To her credit, Debbie directly gets right down to the real nitty-gritty. She writes, "If you fear that entering the blogosphere is like tiptoeing into a minefield -- where you're bound to trip an explosion of controversy or criticism -- how can you learn to do it right?"
Good question. Better question, why would any sane person want to go play tag with a mob of angry communist geeks in a minefield? Weil... according to Debbie, "In truth, creating and maintaining a blog takes work. In addition, the return on investment isn't precisely quantifiable."
Okay, that's pretty wishy-washy. Then let me ask you this: why on earth would one risk stockholder value by playing in a minefield for some amorphous purpose?
Okay, maybe if we understand exactly what the minefield is, we can determine it for ourselves. Here, again, although Debbie is supposed to be giving me the rationale and a guide how-to, she talks me completely out of it. Definitively, I might add. She says,
Indeed. As I read that line to our general counsel, he grabbed his chest and dropped to the floor. Debbie instinctively wastes no time in assuring him. She continues,
And as the medics are applying the paddles to our general counsel's bare chest, keep in mind,
Regrettable our general counsel Fred is pronounced dead at the scene.
Oh, weil... So much for that idea. Thank you, Debbie. I think we are going to take a pass on The Corporate Blogging Book for now. I am probably leaning toward the Flaming Swords Corporate Juggling Manual instead. I also have my eye on the How to Give Yourself a Lobotomy handbook. And, of course, as it is Summer vacation time, the Beirut on 10 Bullets a Day travel guide would be invaluable. Debbie, weil get back to you.
I am sorry. The book and Fred's untimely death leaves me with the same feeling I get after having sat through an unusually bad presentation. Not only am I offended by the waste of time; I just can't get my head around what in God's name they (people like Debbie) were/are thinking. I mean, what motivates them?!
After a fist full of Xanax, I am a little clearer about the whole thing. Debbie Weil is a speaker/marketing consultant. The book isn't a book really; It's a PR vehicle. It's a platform on which to bolster her credentials so as she can sell more consulting services. That's all.
Now for the record, Debbie's not alone here. There's a parade of speaker/marketing consultants forming behind the blogging gravy train. BL Ochman has her book What Could Your Company Do With A Blog. Shel "Screw the Owners" Holtz has Blogging for Business. It's hard to imagine the need for one let alone three.
Anyway, that's what I think. I'll let Debbie have the last word. "Companies don't blog; individuals do."
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I haven't read the book, so I won't even try to pass judgment, but from the excerpts I have to wonder if any of us couln't lump a bunch of blog posts together and create a book on corporate blogging. I mean, much of this stuff being sold to CEOs is just retreaded ideas and hooey. I will admit one thing though; I started blogging to excercise my brain, write down a few ideas, and feed my own ego. And if a book deal comes out of it, I'll send you the galley to review. ;-)
I believe that some people use blogging for evil. There are some big companies paying the price.
Did you see how Jeff Jarvis responded to your comment on buzzmachine.com ?
"Oh, get off your high horse, Godiva."
I am banned from his site. I would have gladly taken him on.
I haven't read the book, so I don't know weather your critics are fair or just taken out of some excerpts. Anyway, I think we should all agree that business books are usually simplified views of reality made to make clearer points and, usually, to sell one's own product.
BUT, having said that, I think your arguments about corporate blogging lack one key point: blogging is happening. People all around the world are talking about your company, about your products, about you. Maybe your own employees are doing that. It's a trend that people spend more time in the internet rather than other media.
You, as a company, have two options: you can make as if anything was happening, or you can get into that conversation trying to give your own points to the audience. The first opcion is more confortable, cheaper and less problematic in the short term. But remember, you are just pretending that nothing is happening, which is just not true, so you will be not ready for any consequences that might bring to your company.
"You can get into that conversation trying to give your own points to the audience."
Absolutely. And companies are, and have been, variously involved in the marketplace conversation. But what the blog evangelistas propose is to cede control to the mob.
Here's a way to look at it. Open Source Communications, like OS Software, requires that the "company" accept legal responsibility for the work product of individuals outside the "company." THAT'S NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN!
Finally, the evangelistas have NO CLUE as to the potential risks in that. As such, what they are proposing is frankly irresponsible and potentially malpractice.
Glad to hear your general counsel was pronounced dead. He deserves it. Blogging books abound and present a particular viewpoint - as does Debbie's. The thing to consider is: are intelligent people reading it, or only dimwits? Dimwits have reason to clutch their throats and fall to the floor. Intelligent people will use the content to further their understanding of this new media, and explore its possibilities for themselves and their business. This isn't the world according to - oh - Jack Welch. It's the world according to - bloggers. Citizen journalists. Real folks. All the people corps want to sell to. What's wrong with that? Are we 'the mob'? Well, I'm not. And, I know thousands of others who are not mob-like, either. We're regular folks, some of us are writers and business professionals - and we prefer engagement to sales. We like getting to know who we're doing business with. If the corp presidents and CEOs can't digest that information, then...let'em eat cake. As to the "potential risks" - oh puh-lease! Who knew (or knows yet?) the potential risks of the INTERNET??? At least Debbie's book makes a stab at revealing the possible risks - and benefits. It's ONE view. I should hope companies will explore further - and make qualified decisions. To do otherwise would be truly irresponsible and full of potential malpractice.
Jane you ignorant slut,
"Glad to hear your general counsel was pronounced dead!" Exactly my point. That says it all. You're a lawless have-not wanting to "storm castle Dell" (Jarvis phrase).
With regard to risks and benefits... what the fuck do you know? You head a micro publishing house whose "interests" you claim are "daydreaming." As to Debbie Weil, she's a PR hack.
Lastly, with regard to "hoping companies will explore further - and make qualified decisions," THEY HAVE AND THEY DO. Only .4 percent of the Fortune 500 CEO's blog... FOR GOOD REASON!
PS With regard to your "let'em eat cake," I suggest you look into the roots of that phrase and what it actually means. In summary, it displays the prerogative of the owner (not read blogger).