Tuesday, May 09, 2006

An Update

Just so you know, I haven't gone anywhere. I've just taken up shop in another corner of the blogosphere. And, it's good news.

I've been hired freelance to blog for a media company. I will be blogging as frequently as possible, sometimes 4 or 5 posts per day. Needless to say, I've become too busy to update this blog like I used to.

I'll still try to update things as I think they warrant, but the goal of business blogging is to generate business. I have accomplished my goal. Please feel free to visit my newest endeavor at: www.analyzethisbusiness.com. It's a blog devoted to looking at issues that affect business. From technology to government involvement, and everything in between. Hope you like it.

You're still welcome to contact me at: ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.

"Gone fishin'".....sort of.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Defining Business Blogging

I love this little quote. It's from an article on MasterNewMedia.org by Robin Good.
…personal knowledge management is really about eliminating the IT gibberish that hangs up so many collaborative efforts and getting to the important thing: passionate professionals communicating effectively with peers through flexible, easy-to-use publishing tools.

Short and sweet and to the point.


Web 2.0 And Blogging

Web 2.0. Great. Another web euphamism. When will it end!!

OK, sorry for the outburst. In an article on WebProNews.com, author Ken Yarmosh points out:

I hope if you learned anything from the thoughts I've shared, it's that regardless of the phrase "Web 2.0″, many of these technologies have already impacted businesses around the world. Even for the organizations they still haven't touched, blogs, podcasts, wikis, and RSS are on many of their radars.

But you don't have to my word for it. Besides showing you specific examples of their uses, others are thinking about Web 2.0 and its place in the enterprise.

Nicholas Carr recently asked the question Is Web 2.0 enterprise ready?, pointing to an article by Harvard Business School professor Andrew McAfee. Carr's take on the piece: McAfee makes a strong case for why Web 2.0 technologies may succeed where earlier technologies didn't. The new technologies have other practical advantages as well: they're cheap, fairly simple to set up, and fairly straightforward to use. Companies can test them without much expense or pain.

Ah, now that should raise some interest. He continues:

Of course, as I alluded to earlier, in the business world, especially a larger corporate environment, there will be challenges to change - as always. And that's fine. I don't think everyone should have a blog, just to have a blog. It's use should be strategic.

So, what's your strategy? Let us help you develop it. ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Blogs Threatening Businesses?

Geez, I never really thought of myself as a "threat". Unless, of course, you count against the status quo.

In his article, Defending Yourself Against The Blogs on MultiChannelMerchant.com, author Tim Parry talks about both monitoring and responding to blogs.

Almost every company has a policy covering what to do when traditional media call about an issue, Wagner says (John Wagner, owner of Houston-based public relations firm Wagner Communications - ed), but hardly any companies have a similar policy regarding blogs and other social media.
As time goes on, and companies are forced by their markets to examine this blog "phenomenon", those policies will develop. And counter-strategies will as well.
The people you choose to respond, Hahn says (Lisa Hahn, president of NJ-based public relations firm Caugherty Hahn Communications - ed), should not only have a deep knowledge about the company, but they should also have at least basic writing abilities and be able to edit and monitor their work to make sure they don't come across the wrong way.

“The reply can look spontaneous, but it has to be well thought out,” Hahn says. “Like a business e-mail, it should not be filled with typos, bad grammar, and poor punctuation. You still have to look at the fundamentals before getting star-struck with new technologies.”
All good points. It's nice to see more and more companies coming to the party. More on this later. In the meantime... ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Group Blogging For Businesses

From PRLeap.com:

Sec-Filings.com launches Company/Corporate blogs' and RSS feeds for publicly traded companies.
(PRLEAP.COM) Sec-Filings.com is a collection of individual blogs, each dedicated
to publicly traded companies.The website will allow journalists, web publishers, investors, investor relations, company personnel, corporate management, and the
public at large to effectively comment and share information that may be beneficial to the online community. As media channels continue to become more segmented, blogs represent a new and emerging opportunity for companies to pinpoint communications to key investors. Blogging provides a unique and highly effective platform to connect with key constituents and audiences. Blogs are frequently updated, journal-style web pages that contain Sec-Filings, News, Opinions, Links and Commentary, now blogs can be harnessed to reap the benefits of engaging in direct and meaningful dialogue with customers, and investors alike.

Group blogging. It's becoming all the rage these days. And why not - it's the 'economies of scale' in action. ghostblogging@veritymedia.com

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Business Blog Ideas

I came across a short press release on PRNewswire.com that featured some business blog sites created by NetBaldwin.com, a Mid-Atlantic Search Engine Marketing firm. They listed a couple of their client's blog addresses:


I have some thoughts.

First off, as you can tell, these are basic 'template' sites. Now, they're certainly better than static web pages, but I hope their clients don't get their hopes set too high. Here's why.

All they're doing is republishing their printed material. That's OK if you're just looking to up your search engine ranking by continually adding content. Fine. What you have is just an online version of your company brochure. That's fine too. But I think these businesses are leaving a lot on the table. I get no sense of a dialogue, which is one of the strengths of a blog. There doesn't seem to be a human touch, and therefore, it's not much different than a simple web page.

If these companies are looking to just get more people to find them on a Google search, then I suppose their money is well-spent. But if they were hoping to set themselves apart in their respective industries, they'll probably be let down.

Blogs are about content, not marketing material. There's a difference. ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Senior Executive Blogging Survey

I suppose you could see this as the glass half-full and half-empty!

From BusinessWire.com. Here's the headline:

Fortune 1000 Senior Executives Slow to React to the Growing Credibility of Corporate Blogs, New Survey Concludes; Almost Half of Respondents Lack Corporate Blogging Policies, Although 77% Believe They Should Have Them.
"We have a snapshot of the beginning of a corporate activity and a medium which is set to grow rapidly and to become very important to corporations around the world," said Humphrey Taylor, Chairman of The Harris Poll(R), Harris Interactive. "Companies that do not recognize this trend and take action to capitalize on it will miss out on valuable opportunities and run the risk of being blindsided by unfavorable publicity."

This could be bad news for companies who are slow to realize both the risks and benefits of blogs. This could be good news for those of us in this growth segment of the knowledge economy!

Works for me! ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Add Another Business To The Blogosphere

Southwest Airlines has joined the world of corporate blogs. You can find it at: BlogSouthwest.com. This appeared in an article in the Grand Forks Herald.

It's brand new and is going through obvious growing pains, but I like what they're doing. It's not "slick" or "corporate". It's got a human voice to it. Real people are posting stories that matter to them.

Now, of course, the challenge will be to keep it from becoming trite, but that should come in time. I'm sure they'll get to headier stuff - like how oppressive and unpredictable fuel prices affect their business - farther down the road.

I have a friend who flies for Southwest and who raves about the company. This might be more anecdotal evidence that these guys and gals "get it". I'll be watching.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Too Err Is Human...

...and easily and quickly correctable on a blog!

My thanks to Easton Ellsworth. He hosts a blog called BusinessBlogWire.com. He pointed out to me through a comment on my last post that the article I quoted from BusinessWeek.com, was actually written for their May 2nd, 2005 edition, not 2006 like I thought. Apparantly my prescription is little weak. I'm grateful for Easton. And this is why I love blogs.

I presented incorrect information due to my own error. I was corrected within a day, and I was able to promptly reply with this post to correct my error. So, in the course of roughly 24 hours, I was able to respond to an issue, and bring it to a successful conclusion. To me, this is the essence of an "agile" business. It's also a perfect example of the value of a business blog. My error was corrected, and I got valuable feedback from a "consumer" of my efforts. I'm not dimished by this, I'm uplifted.

Yes, someone pointed out something "negative" about my business. Welcome to the real world. I was able to use that "negative" to become better at what I do. And now anyone in the world can see that I was able to take constructive criticism and and learn the value of blogs for businesses. Ain't life grand!

I really don't see a downside here. OK, maybe comment spam... ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Building A Better Business

I want to again reference the article I found by Stephen Baker and Heather Green on BusinessWeek.com. It will actually be their May 2nd cover story.

I'll admit, the article headline is not what most status quo business want to hear. "Blogging Will Change Your Business". A lot of companies and company executives fear changing their businesses for a lot of reasons. It can be hard, or scary, or expensive (not in this case), or it might force them to admit that their leadership might not be cutting it. Tough issues. But if the success of the business is the ultimate goal, not simply padding your bank account, then read on.
Picture the blog world as the biggest coffeehouse on Earth. Hunched over their laptops at one table sit six or seven experts in nanotechnology. Right across from them are teenage goths dressed in black and thoroughly pierced. Not too many links between those two tables. But the café goes on and on. Saudi women here, Labradoodle lovers there, a huge table of people fooling around with cell phones. Those are the mobile-photo crowd, busily sending camera-phone pictures up to their blogs.

The racket is deafening. But there's loads of valuable information floating around this cafe. Technorati, PubSub, and others provide the tools to listen. While the traditional Web catalogs what we have learned, the blogs track what's on our minds.

Why does this matter? Think of the implications for businesses of getting an up-to-the-minute read on what the world is thinking. Already, studios are using blogs to see which movies are generating buzz. Advertisers are tracking responses to their campaigns. "I'm amazed people don't get it yet," says Jeff Weiner, Yahoo's senior vice-president who heads up search. "Never in the history of market research has there been a tool like this."

It's immediate, it's permanantly on display, and it's not going away. Let us help you become the business you lay awake at night dreaming you could be! ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.

The Best Business Blog Article EVER...(so far!)

Give the 8 foot stuffed animal to BusinessWeek.com. They've nailed it. Someone ought to give writers Stephen Baker and Heather Green a medal. I'll shut up and let you read this.
Go ahead and bellyache about blogs. But you cannot afford to close your eyes to them, because they're simply the most explosive outbreak in the information world since the Internet itself. And they're going to shake up just about every business -- including yours. It doesn't matter whether you're shipping paper clips, pork bellies, or videos of Britney in a bikini, blogs are a phenomenon that you cannot ignore, postpone, or delegate. Given the changes barreling down upon us, blogs are not a business elective. They're a prerequisite. (And yes, that goes for us, too.)

If your company is the type to see the glass as half empty, honestly, that's too bad for you.
Yet not all the news is scary. Ideas circulate as fast as scandal. Potential customers are out there, sniffing around for deals and partners. While you may be putting it off, you can bet that your competitors are exploring ways to harvest new ideas from blogs, sprinkle ads into them, and yes, find out what you and other competitors are up to.

I keep trying to tell you, now is the time. And, I'll be back to tell you again day after day after day, because I want your business to succeed. Hey, I'm just a nice guy. ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.

Friday, April 21, 2006

More Businesses Evaluating Blogging

The pressure continues to mount. No, not in the NBA playoffs. More and more businesses are being forced to take a hard look at the blogosphere because of the sheer pervasiveness of blogs. It's not letting up.

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on PittsburghLive.com, by Kim Leonard:
"It is of growing importance for businesses to read blogs, and consider writing their own blogs," said Mike Woycheck, information systems technologist for the Pittsburgh Technology Council. "It's something businesses have to pay attention to, because it's not going to go away."

The more voices join the chorus, the harder it will be to ignore.
For now, major Pittsburgh businesses appear to be dipping their toes into the blogging pool. H.J. Heinz and Del Monte Foods, to name two, have considered starting online chats with customers. American Eagle Outfitters said it isn't currently involved in blogging. Some of the best known business blogs are well-crafted running conversations, presenting a warmer image of a company than any ads, let alone annual reports and press releases, can achieve.

The longer you wait, the less of a competitive advantage your company will have. You may already be behind the curve. Catch up. ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Marketing Your Business Better

In an article written on WebProNews.com, regular writer Wayne Hurlbert reaches out to "old school" marketers. He's got some good points.
Of course, there are many more positive reasons for open dialogue than negative ones. In any case, talking to your customers creates long term business relationships that can last for a lifetime. Those lifetime customers can also become your greatest brand evangelists, who will spread the positive word of mouth, on your company's behalf.

Media relations are much easier with a blog component to your website. Journalists can check the blog for business, personnel, and product news in an instant. With that ease of story creation, your company is much more likely to receive media coverage, than a non-blogging organization.

As a blogging company, your business is immediately moved from the mainstream to the cutting edge of modern business communication where conversations take place at light speed. Regardless of your industry, being seen as a business leader will only yield a positive response. Your business will be viewed more favourably by your prospects, your current customer base, the media, and the general public. Your open lines of communication, provided through your business blog, is the reason.

If you are in the business of developing a long term and lifetime customer base, there is no more effective technique than a business blog. The cost effectiveness alone makes a blog an important asset.

New ways of thinking are more difficult to embrace than new technologies, I believe. But in this case, the upside potential is so great, and the downside risk - provided your business blog is in the hands of a capable blog professional - is so small, that businesses each and every day are graduating from the "Old School".

Your diploma is waiting! ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Listening To The Blogosphere

Dave Gussow, writing for the St. Petersburg Times on SPTimes.com, writes a bit about the flip side of blogging. Most people focus on the publishing side of it. Don't forget, blogs are for listening too.
Josh Hallett, a Winter Haven consultant who has become something of a blog evangelist, says businesses need to understand, not fear, blogs. Even on personal blogs, business is discussed and comments are aired that can affect a brand and its image.

If someone posts a critical comment, a business needs to know about it and how to respond, Hallett said. If there's a positive comment, the business can build on that, too.

"You have to have a thick skin," Hallett said. "And unfortunately a lot of people don't."And that's one of Hallett's main messages to companies and groups: A blog doesn't have to be about writing. It can, and perhaps should, be as much about listening.

"Start reading blogs, do blog searches," Hallett said. "What are people saying about your products and services? If your business isn't on the radar of bloggers, then look at what they're saying about your industry."

Don't forget that much information can be gathered from the blogosphere. Just because some of it might be bad news for your business or your industry, don't shoot the messenger. Learn from it, and then become proactive. That's what we're here for. ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Business Blogs And Management

I wanted to again reference the article by Scott Yaw on SmartBiz.com. He identifies a crucial point that puts the pressure of a business blog squarely on the shoulders of management - where it should be.
Blogs are no longer a sub-culture of the Internet. They are a mainstream information resource. However, blogs are not a universal fit for every company. Unrestricted, honest feedback can liberate the company’s brand communication efforts or oppress the entire organization’s culture. The idea of launching an informal, open blog can strike terror in the heart of most controlling senior managers. But unlike other trendy business communications, blogs are a way for companies to receive truth, send truth and most importantly, manage public perception in real time.
Don't miss a key element in that paragraph. It's that the goal of a blog needs to be about the Truth. Not spin. Not Marketing. Not reinforcing your brand. It's got to be about the Truth. If it's not, your blog will never survive the scrutiny. It's kind of like the difference between writing a speech and standing in front of an audience giving a speech. In the latter scenario, you have to face a room full of potential critics. Speeches are always brilliant before they're given. After the fact, that's not always the case.

Are you ready to engage your stakeholders with the Truth? If not, the the world of blogs is not for you. Putting out cliche-ridden press releases is probably more up your alley.

If you think you're ready, so are we. ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Affordability Of Blogs For Small Businesses

Wow, something every business can afford. Well, sort of.

From the money aspect, absolutely. When it comes to expenditure of time, that's another story. But it's still worth looking at. Scott Yaw writes on SmartBiz.com:
A blog can be particularly beneficial to cash strapped small business. In many cases, cost prohibits small businesses from field research initiatives such as survey questionnaires and focus groups. In other cases, customers may be reluctant to give honest feedback to the small business. However, a blog may be the first time a small business gets an affordable opportunity to establish honest input from current customers and potential new customers they hope to serve.
So true. The honest challenge is: Do you really want to know what your customers are thinking? It's my belief that many businesses don't, and they go to elaborate ways to avoid facing that issue. Having to face the possibility that all your "brilliant" ideas are not working very well can be daunting.

Just some more food for thought. ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.