Can trust transfer from blogger to corporation?
I stumbled into a <new for me> word press blog that seems to talk about KM types of issues via Scobleizer today!
Orcology has a post about how allowing employees to blog can benefit a company as the positive reputation of the blogger can overflow into the company.
The original post became a conversation with Scobleizer and Shel Israel. T his is how the inter-connected world of the 'Net works! I began my thoughts in Orcology comments section and am continuing here:
I think the idea of trust (and image) transference from blog sources to companies could take the place of the old style transference used in advertising. Advertising often uses celebrity and professional endorsements to ellicit viewer's trust. I think that the US public has finally started to become jaded to this approach.
It would be interesting to see if the positive feelings associated with a blogger can effectively be transferred. Unfortunately, it will be more difficult to measure — since a blogger like Scobleizer is not affiliated with any one campaign but with the brand as a whole. Businesses dislike (with some good reason) allocating resources to activities with unmeasurable results.
The primary thing that is preventing this kind of posotove reputation transfer is the companies, their advertising consultants, and marketing & PR departments. They do not seem to understand that the net is a conversation. I have noticed on some marketing and PR blogs and other sources that they are trying to encourage more businesses to offer articles and other value to via a blog. It's not bad advice — but they still focuses upon any readers as potential consumers. Until they see readers as people with ideas and needs — their efforts will be seen as insincere. And — frankly — having a one way conversation that does not honestly listen is insincere!
Smart companies trust their employees not to do something stupid that will violate basic terms of most employment contracts, such as do not directly compete with your employer, do not badmouth, misrepresent or embarrass your employer in public, do not reveal tradesecrets. These are things that an employer does have a right to demand of their employees and they apply to any form of communication. This is why I never understood the need for seperate blogging policies. Outside of a whistleblower situation — employee efforts are supposed to support, not sabotage, their employer. An employer that trusts that their employees are capable of writing within these parameters go a long way in creating an atmosphere of trust. Where one is encouraged to trust and share within the firewalls — it is likely one will be able to do the same outside of the firewalls.
However, trust continues to be a large issue in many organizations. I don't see hope of this improving until old power structures are overturned. Lack of trust is one of the major reasons that KM initiatives can fail. Employees who are afraid are not going to willingly share. If they are required to share, they will toe the party line. An organization that is a strict hierarchical top-down organization is going to continue to have these problems. KM depends upon open two way communications — well thought out but honest feedback is important. I'm not sure that such things are possible. If an organization is controlling its message tightly — readers know it! We can all spot "PR" or "Market speak."
We cannot entirely blame the marketing, advertising and PR professionals. Often, they are operating within constraints set by executives who may refuse to understand that transparency can benefit the organization. I believe that some do get it — and I read some blogs by such advertising and marketing creatives who are generating conversations. On the other hand I receive articles from those who think they understand how this marvelous new and inexpensive medium can be used — in generating more of the same old inside to outside messaging. In other words they don't "get it." It is just an extension of the concocted petition signings, bussed in protestors and other astro turfing antics. Until they become part of the conversation — I don't think that companies will be trusted. Even with an employee blogger, such as Scobleizer, there must be consistancy.