Corporate blogging: A personal touch

The switch that unleashes the power of communication is making it personal – and this applies to corporate websites, blogs and social media – author and communications prof David Perlmutter says.

Perlmutter studies and blogs on political communication and wrote Blog Wars: The New Political Battleground, which came out early in 2008 chronicling, among other things, the superior online presence of Barack Obama’s campaign for President. I went to Perlmutter’s lecture on business blogging today at the suburban Kansas City campus of the University of Kansas (where he teaches).

The mark of a great communicator, Perlmutter says, is that a member of the audience comes away saying, “I felt like he was talking to me personally.” Without the human connection, talk is just noise. So it is with corporate forays into interactive media, Perlmutter says. The goal is mass communication, but the voice must be personal.

“I have seen a lot of corporate blogs and, boy, they read like corporate blogs,” Perlmutter says. “This is something that big institutions have trouble figuring out how to do.” Finding the right voice will be different for every company, but it will certainly take some thought.

The professor also hit one of my favorite themes: Companies shouldn’t leap into blogging, Twittering or using other media without first figuring out how those tools serve their business purposes. A blog, for example, demands time and resources – someone to maintain relationships by posting fresh material, responding to comments and implementing new ideas. So, Perlmutter says, “The first decision you need to make is, what is it actually trying to accomplish?”

For investor relations people looking at what I call IR 2.0, strategic thinking is a critical first step.

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