On November 3, a prominent blogger got the first official post by a chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Christopher Cox. ". . . Technology now plays an integral role in timely informing the markets and investors about important corporate information and developments," the post reads.
The blog in question was of no less a person than chief executive of Sun Microsystems, Jonathan Schwartz. The SEC chief was responding to Schwartz's recent request to use blogs too to inform investors. "I (Cox) mailed the response to your letter yesterday..., but...I thought you might appreciate my taking advantage of the Internet's speed and
potential for broad dissemination by posting here (on Jonathan's blog) as well...The Commission encourages the use of websites as a source of information to the market and investors..."
Corporate blogging, though in its infacy, has got a shot in the arm with this post. It is estimated that 40 Fortune 500 companies publish corporate blogs, allowing CEOs, employees to bypass the public relations department, journalists and industry analysts and speak directly to the public. Amazon, Cisco and Oracle were early adopters with AMD, Dell, Kodak, GE, Intel, Microsoft, Sun, Yahoo and Xerox following suit.
Not much is happening in India on this front, though. Of course, Infosys has its weblogs called infosysblogs.com and Rajesh Jain (one of the pioneers of the Internet in India) has his emergic.org. But we don't have a Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani or an Azim Premji blogging like Schwartz.
But isn't blogging supposed to be personal? Michael Gartenberg who leads Jupiter Research's team on emerging technology platforms, has an interesting say on this when someone asked him why he doesn't get more personal when he writes on his blogspace.
"The answer is that this is not a personal Weblog. Unlike other bloggers, I get paid to blog. It's part of my job and I get to do it on company time." This means you won't find his views on politics, links to his favourite cheesecake recipes or other insights that make other blogs more personal.
Not all corporate bloggers are necessarily paid. Corporate blogging means the use of company-sponsored blogs as a way to connect with internal and external audiences - interactive, instant, efficient and sometimes explosive. However, with the total number of blogs surpassing 55 million, one needs to understand how to use (not misuse) this new
Organisations like McDonald's and the London School of Business are using blogs and so do firms like Boeing, HP, NetApp and Unica. However, General Motors is one blog that appears to have taken it a step further.
It uses consumer-generated content from YouTube and Flickr and encourages people to label images in Flickr with the tag GMFYI.
Successful blogging (personal or corporate) is all about connecting with an audience and nurturing that relationship. Using RSS feed search engines such as technorati.com and blogpulse.com, one can monitor corporate blog posts as well as important developments in the industry.As this space matures, companies will have to set clear guidelines about what is appropriate for a corporate blog and what is not. And we hope SEBI takes the cue?