Company Blogs and Radical Transparency

    August 10, 2007

Business Edge has a great article on how company blogs–especially CEO blogs–can be used to communicate with stakeholders.

The article is packed with valuable insight and pretty much summarizes the benefits–and potential pitfalls–of a corporate blog.

Dell has particularly impressed me with their radically transparent approach to corporate communications. When Dell laptops started bursting into flames, it was Dell’s chief blogger, Lionel Menchaca, that published the video online.

“Our legal people and others were e-mailing and calling and asking me: ‘What are you doing? This is bad. You can’t do that,’ ” Menchaca says of his post on the Direct2Dell blog last August. “But I said: ‘This is what blogs are about. Everything has changed. We have to be transparent and honest. People are talking about this, they’re posting these images, we can’t ignore it. We have to deal with it directly.’ ” With the backing of founder Michael Dell, Menchaca weathered the internal storm and, as it turned out, won accolades not just from Dell customers, but from the business community over how the company managed to stickhandle around a disastrous public relations event.

When a crisis happens, it can often be diffused by being open and honest about the events. It’s when companies clam-up, that they tend to feel the heat from the blogosphere.