Saturday, November 8, 2008

Blogging about layoffs

This week in class we had to find an unofficial blog to comment on. I chose the unofficial Crocs blog (www.littlerubbershoes.com). For the most part this blog was positive however there are also other unofficial blogs about Crocs which aren’t so positive such as www.ihatecrocs.com. I checked out the official Crocs site (www.crocs.com) and there is no corporate blog on the site. Blogging is an issue which many corporations are trying to figure out if they should or should not have blogs on their corporate site which are open to customers to say whatever they want. After doing some research, I also realized that the employees themselves could post comments on their own employer’s site which can be equally dangerous to a company from PR perspective.

One of the hot issues that come up on a corporate blog site is the issue of layoffs and how to control the rumors about layoffs in the world of blogging. As Miller states, “Blogging about staff cuts is particularly prevalent in Silicon Valley, where tech gossip sites pounce on every rumor and Web-savvy employees broadcast their every thought on personal blogs and Twitter feeds. Companies feel pressure to break bad news on their own blogs so that they can better control the message” (Miller). I had never really thought about the potential for this in terms of the impact on the brand, on employee morale and with investors. This is an area in which public relations, human resources and executive management must truly all be on the same page.

When layoffs happen at large companies, there is usually some type of internal communication via email or on an intranet. Now with the internet that information is a mouse click away from being distributed to the rest of the world. Companies need to get ahead of the curve by being proactive, as is pointed out in Miller’s article “Today, whatever you say inside of a company will end up on a blog,” said Rusty Rueff, a former human resources executive at Electronic Arts and PepsiCo. “So you have a choice as a company — you can either be proactive and take the offensive and say, ‘Here’s what’s going on,’ or you can let someone else write the story for you.” (Miller).

Blogging is bringing a new dimension to public relations and the skills needed by a PR person. The days of just issuing press releases and developing key messages are coming to an end as Miller states “Unlike more traditional firms, many of today’s Web companies were built on the mission of creating transparency for users. Executives have lived that mission, blogging about company successes. Now that bad times are coming, some of them feel the need to make that public, too. A blog post also comes across as more heartfelt than a press release with canned quotations” (Miller).

Corporations are still trying to get their arms around the correct strategy for a blog as our week 3 lesson points out “While establishing a blog might seem like a no-brainer for most companies, there are many important questions that come with the territory. How do you keep an official company blog on-message while giving it a real and honest voice? Who should manage the blog? Is a corporate blogging policy necessary? And should a company encourage or stifle employees who spend time blogging? The answers to these questions are still being hammered out because the blogs of today represent new ground for marketers -- just as Web sites and e-newsletters did a few years ago” (IMC 619 week 3). The blog is definitely a tool that companies need to begin to master from many different angles. More than a traditional web site, a blog give companies the ability to let the public know what is really going on with the company. For a public relations professional this can be good or bad depending on what company you work for.

- Patrick

References

IMC 619 Week 3 Lesson. 2008 West Virginia University.

Miller, Claire. (2008, Nov. 5). In Era of Blog Sniping Companies Shoot First. New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2008 from http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/05/technology/start-ups/05blog.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&em

1 comment:

johncass said...

Handling criticism from employees is one of the most important questions among companies today. There is one famous example of a company allowing an employee to criticize their own company. Robert Scoble and Microsoft. However, in some ways Microsoft was a special case because of the history of the court case during the late 1990's. Microsoft's reputation had been damaged during the case, and many customers were neutral or negative towards the company. By being willing to allow employee criticism by Scoble many customers were impressed with the level of openness. I think this incidence is rare in corporate America.