Lessons In Corporate Blogging
Google’s Lauren Turner learned a hard lesson in blogging this weekend: Be careful of what you say on a corporate blog. People are listening and they do react when poked.
In case you missed it, our new friend Lauren helped break in Google’s Health Advertising Blog on Friday morning by referencing, and somewhat attacking Michael Moore’s new documentary Sicko. She blasted the film and then encouraged health care companies (aka deep pocketed customers) to fight back against the film by advertising on Google. What was the response once the blogosphere got wind of Google beating down a film in an attempt to sell more ads?
Predictable outrage, mostly.
Lauren bravely returned to the scene of the crime less than 24 hours and offered up a follow-up post entitled My opinion and Google’s explaining that the opinion expressed was her own, not Google’s. Wisely or not, she also took the opportunity to defend her stance that using advertising is "a very democratic and effective way to participate in a public dialogue". So, like, if you don’t agree with the film, buy more ads on Google!
Oye, she should have stopped while she was ahead.
Both Lauren and Google have suffered an onslaught of attacks since the two blog posts were published. An agitated blogosphere cried for Google to stay unbiased, for Google’s lawyers to screen blog posts more carefully, and some even wanted Lauren’s keys to the blog taken away.
Why? Because she expressed her opinion and perhaps a case of bad judgment? Dude, someone just dissected a $600 iPhone on purpose. Go burn that guy at the stake, not her.
Lauren’s only crime here was not realizing that when you post something on a corporate blog, you’re speaking for that company. As much as you just want to be speaking for only yourself, you’re not. You can disclaimer that post up and down, but if your words appear under a Google logo, that disclaimer means nothing. You are Google. You are Google’s voice, and as Neil Patel blogged last week, there is such a thing as bad PR.
My fear is that corporations will take this situation and overreact. They’ll start censoring who can blog and they’ll begin nitpicking which entries can be published and which need a re-write. I don’t think Google would ever subscribe to this idea of blogging, but it worries me that people are even asking for it.
A corporate blog is meant to be opinionated. If you’re not going to be expressing unique opinion, why are you blogging in the first place? To restate the events of the day? Wow, that’s…totally exciting. The objective a corporate blog is to let customers and potential customers know where you stand on an issue and what you believe as a company. It’s about attracting visitors with a common belief set, finding an engaged audience, leveraging that passion and that energy, and showing visitors that you’re the kind of company they want to associate themselves with. To do that you have to expose some of yourself and suffer the occasional misstep. .
Lauren sure did that this weekend.
You can’t blog safe. Successful bloggers are the ones who are willing to put themselves out there. Should Lauren have blasted Michael Moore’s film while hinting that you should advertise more with Google? No, but she shouldn’t be afraid of stating Google opinion either and the lot of you shouldn’t try to make her. Blogging entails taking a calculated risk every now and then and saying something your boss would probably rather you keep in your pretty little head. There’s a different between blogging smart and blogging restrained.
We’ve all had our corporate blogging faux pas (I’m still healing from my public lashing), you learn and you move on. I think Lauren learned a tough lesson here and it’s going to make her a better, smarter blogger.
Welcome to the blogosphere, Lauren. We hope you enjoyed your initiation because you officially have an audience!