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Blog the Way we Tell You To. Right Now!

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Back in the early 1990s, when I worked in communications at Allergan, Inc., the company introduced a new silicon intraocular lens, the artificial lens used to replace a bad organc crystalline lens during cataract surgery.

A silicon lens offered significant advantages over the phacoemulsification lens that had been the industry standard since the Korean War. An ophthalmologist could insert the lens folded in half, requiring a much smaller incision that could be closed with a single stitch, promoting faster healing and reduced risk of infection.

Allergan’s marcom staff knew their biggest challenge was convincing doctors to try something new. Not only would they be skeptical and reluctant to change something they were familiar with that worked, they would also have to learn new surgical techniques. The effort to get docs to embrace the silicon lens would take years.

So it is in just about every profession, every business. New ideas do not sweep any business community overnight-not the medical profession, not communications.

Knowing this, I’m growing a bit weary of the snipes and jabs at anyone who doesn’t immediately (man, am I getting tired of this phrase) “get it.” I saw a comment on the Repman blog yesterday that proclaimed, “digital has been around for 3 or so years, so if (PR) folks don’t get it yet, i doubt they will.” Oh, please. If medical device manufacturers gave up on doctors after three years, medical practices would be mired in the dark ages.

I am equally bemused by the harsh judgement passed down by some on businesses just putting their toes in the water of social media. As I reported here yesterday (and on yesterday’s Hobson & Holtz Report), Dell has launched a blog. The first post came on July 5; the official announcement of the blog’s presence was made yesterday. The blog was inspired by MSDN’s Channel 9, designed to create transparency and open a dialogue.

Consider what it probably took to get a Dell blog launched. More than likely, some executives needed to be convinced by lower-ranking enthusiasts. The execs’ reluctance was based on having already been burned in the blogosphere. They probably gave their approval after many presentations and memos, but with caveats and conditions. Still, the blog is accepting critical comments, and the company has made commitments about the blog’s openness. So with a mere seven posts under its belt and still feeling its way around, how has the blog been greeted?

Jeff Jarvis, the blogger who stirred up the storm of controversy with his Dell Hell posts, wrote:

The subtitle is “direct conversations with Dell” but this is as much a conversation as yelling at a brick wall. There is not one link there. It’s filled with promotions for Dell’s wonderfulness.

Steve Rubel chided:

When I read the one2one doctrine, their heart seems like it’s in the right place. Their actions don’t speak that way. Perhaps it might have been better for them to have stayed silent.

Time for a deep breath. The blog’s authors are real people serving as human touch points for customers, and given a bit of time to find its footing, one2one could very well be exactly what Jarvis, Rubel and the other critics believe it should be. But blogs do need time to find their voice-especially group blogs-and corporations don’t move at the same light speed as individual bloggers and evangelist agencies. Is there no slack to be cut among the superior early adopters who have already figured things out?

Props to Andy Lark for counseling patience:

The bloggerati just need to get over every blog coming out the gate reading like a conversation at the local pub and not rehashing the past trials and tribulations of bloggers. It takes time for a corporate blog to find its collective voice.

There’s a fine line between evangelizing and sanctimony. Or, to put it another way: Guide, don’t chide.

UPDATE: Surprise, surprise. They are listening at Dell!

Shel Holtz is principal of Holtz Communication + Technology which focuses on helping organizations apply online communication capabilities to their strategic organizational communications.

As a professional communicator, Shel also writes the blog a shel of my former self.

Blog the Way we Tell You To. Right Now!
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