Interview: Raising blog awareness in Norway

In October, I was interviewed about blogging for an article in the Norwegian business publication Kommunikasjon, published in Oslo, Norway, by Kommunikasjonsforeningen.

The article’s now been published. It’s not online, only in print. And it’s in Norwegian. But thanks to translation help from Fredrik Wackå, I have the text in English.

There’s increasing interest about business blogging in the Nordic countries. If you read Fredrik’s blog, Corporate Blogging Info, or Media Culpa by Hans Kullin, you’ll know there is a lot going on in Sweden, for instance.

In Norway, business interest in blogging is rapidly increasing. So I hope articles like this one in major business media will help draw more attention and closer focus on this topic so that communicators and business leaders in Norway can understand more about the benefits of this communication channel.

Here’s the text of the interview. If you want to see the original Norwegian, just click on the small image to open a larger version in a new window or tab.

Waves of blogs

Larger and larger waves of weblogs are coming over us. Should we communicators dip our toes in the water, or dive into this rather new sea of communications?

Picture caption: Blogging can make the communications department become a catalyst for better knowledge management, says communicator Neville Hobson, a past board member of IABC.

Blogs are here to stay, so companies should start using this channel to reach their business goals, says Neville Hobson.

In September, when Neville Hobson asked 100 participants at the international conference Driving Business Performance Through Employee Engagement, hosted by Marcus Evans, who has a weblog of their own, just one participant raised his hand.

Why is Hobson so optimistic in relation to the use of this new and informal channel of communications?

First of all, it’s easy to start your own blog. It takes about 10 minutes and doesn’t demand any special technological competence. And to comment on someone else’s blog is even easier. The nature of the blog is democratic, and a company can use it to have a closer relationship with their customers, says Hobson.

Moreover, from March last year to October this year we have seen growth from 250,000 to 4 million blogs around the world. You can’t neglect blogs as a communications tool. They fit together with more traditional channels like intranets, forums or bulletins/e-mail lists.

How can companies use blogs to reach their business goals?

The interactive nature of the blog can help a company to get a stronger relationship with customers or employees. A blog can be an evolution of an extranet or an intranet. As an informal channel it supplements formal channels, and it stimulates employees to share knowledge both within the organization and with customers. The greatest challenge for any company is to create an emotional relationhip with its customers. Contact between employees and customers through a blog can play a role in overcoming the emotional gap.

Won’t millions of blogs lead us to lose the overview over what’s most interesting?

That’s certainly a risk, but new companies like Technorati and Feedster track blog conversations all over the internet and categorize them into subjects, which makes them easier to find.

Many of the companies who have started using blogs are IT companies like IBM or Microsoft. How do blogs fit in to more traditional companies where all employees don’t have access to e-mail or the internet?

Blogs are a channel, a tool, just another way to communicate and develop relationships with. As with other communication tools, the blog will find its place depending on the circumstances and needs in the individual company. IT companies has been the first to start using blogs, but the picture is changing fast. More types of companies have realized that blogs can support business goals, just like other communication tools.

What are the dangers of a corporate blog?

It involves risks, but it is controlled risk. To communicate through a blog is different from informing employees top-down. I think companies who start blogs for their employees should avoid implementing formal procedures for approving content and let it be spontaneous. It’s essential to establish clear guidelines from the start. Should the blog reflect personal views or the companies views? You should be as specific and clear as possible on what’s allowed and what’s not, and on who it is that owns the copyright to the content.

If all employees become information channels and content producers, what will the communications department do?

Blogging can make the communications department become a catalyst for better knowledge management. Start your own blog, surf other blogs, contribute to the conversations. Build a network of like-minded colleagues, no matter their professional category, and create a group blog for your department. When your top boss says “hey, I feel like starting a blog” or “I have started a blog,” you know that you should have seized the opportunity and been proactive on blogging.