Monday, March 27, 2006

Professional / Corporate Blog Training Need

The blog is a legitimate business communications tool that impacts our current social computing environment. Corporations need qualified professionals that can recognize challenges in this evolving environment, that can support corporate blogging needs through this transition, and that can successfully communicate corporate goals via the creation of an effective online presence -- the corporate blog.

Corporations use blogs as a platform to present and project a specific business goal -- internal, external, or both -- to generate on-going dialogue between businesses, employees, customers, and the general public.

Internal blogs serve internal corporate purposes, such as knowledge management, employee motivation strategies, or simply to reduce email. IBM's DeveloperWorks Blogs and Hewlett Packard Blogs are examples of corporate blogs used for internal purposes.

External blogs serve external corporate purposes, such as promotion of products or services. The Club Siemens blog is an example of such a corporate purpose. The corporate blog may also be used as a "press" platform to make announcements to businesses, customers, and the public about partnerships or organizational change.

Corporate blogging is a means for corporations to create a presence in the online community. But their success depends on their bloggers and their management of corporate blogs. Because few educational institutes actually train students to blog appropriately, effectively, and in a socially responsible manner, corporations rely on employees or independent-type contractors to meet their needs. Microsoft's hiring of Robert Scoble as an "Evangelist" is an example.

Corporate executives that blog have difficulty keeping their blogs current and responding to streams of questions and comments because they need to focus on other business objectives. Two particular executives have mentioned this:
1. Mohammed Amin of PriceWaterhouseCoopers wishes to blog weekly but is only managing fornightly posts.
2. AOL's Ted Leonis mentions having a flood of email originating from his blog to respond to.

Clearly, a niche market exists for professionally trained bloggers. Bloggers that can identify with specific corporate goals (internal or external) and tailor their blogging prowess to present those corporate goals via the corporate blog platform.

If business schools are not preparing business students to use the blog as a legitimate business communication tool, then corporations rely on training their own employees or contract with independent companies for these services.

Today -- at USC's Experimental Learning Lab (ELC) -- a team of students from BUAD 307 pitched a BizBlogRecruitment marketing plan to promote the services of a business blog recruitment [training and consultancy] company. The target audience being corporations that blog, those that plan to blog, and those not blogging. Included in the target audience are professional writers and bloggers. Here is the introductory slide:

Our goal through this exercise is to show corporations that accepting and adapting to change, such as creating a tailored corporate blog, empowers them to maintain a competitive edge and connect with powerful online communities.

Although, as a team, we developed a marketing mix and plan for this service, we -- as business students -- have no formal classes in corporate/business blogging as a legitimate business communications tool on offer at our school.

As corporations need to recognize the changes in the social computing evironment and evolve their operations accordingly so that the organization and employees are prepared for interactions within the online environment. Similarly, business schools need to recognize the changes in the social computing environment and evolve their courses accordingly so that business students are prepared for the post-college online environment and developing business opportunities.

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