Sunday, January 30, 2005


This memo is from early in January, but it is so good that I am citing it here. It is a report and recommendation from a blogger-journalist to his managing editor on how to integrate blogging with a newspaper -- the Greensboro, NC News-Record. Look particularly at his suggestions at the end.

The memo reprises the difficulties newspapers face with declining readership, the success of bloggers in traditional journalism and the rise of community journalism. It's a digest of everything bloggers have discussed during the last year and an argument for incorporating blogging into the paper's editorial process. His suggestions are compelling and a way to get readers involved while keeping the newspaper's editorial integrity intact.

It struck me that much of what he recommends could be used in any multi-location company that is trying to keep a useful flow of news going to employees. For example, there is no reason why there shouldn't be a blogger assigned for groups of stores in a retail chain -- say, one blogger for every 10 stores -- whose job is to track what is happening in the stores and to log news for employees in them. This could be done on the company's intranet and made available to the company population as a whole. The editors of general employee publications can draw on these blogs for stories that go into greater depth. This approach would take away any headquarters bias of employee publications and bring the point of customer contact closer to the entire company. The same can be done for plant sites, for distribution points and for sales offices. In other words, the same community journalism envisioned for newspapers can also be done for in-house communications.

I'm sure there are practitioners doing this already. If so, I would like to hear from you.

I've persuaded my company to adopt the blog. Oddly enough, it has not been an uphill battle.

I joined a testing division of a top semiconductor manufacturing firm, where the new manager was faced with the task of making broad-sweeipng changes to move the group from lowest in class to highest performing in a single quarter. Effective communications was a key player in creating a group morale that could sustain those goals; and I think that I've learned some things about corporate communications from being in the trenches here.

My manager sought opportunities to present factual messages, but with only a quarterly opportunity to hold court amongst all shifts, it made more sense to seek greener pastures. So I dusted off the abandoned news portal. This quickly dispensed with a constant daily barrage of e-mail bulletins that merely got deleted when information overload levels got breached. The blog from the manager, on top of that, was not a hard sell when he took into account how the same population could be reached at any given time.

We're still in a nascent stage with the project, but the results have been tremendous, namely, the gratitude from the staff for having clear communications channels, and access to the boss once again.

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