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Blogging for business: the CMR example

I interviewed Barry Seifer, principal at Cubellis Marco Retail Design (CMR) recently, about they way his company is using blogs to promote communication between CMR and its customers and employees. I’ve been looking at whether blogging is really making an impact as an in-company communication tool, and the research I’ve done has given me a mixed impression. Most companies I have spoken to have set up blog projects targeted externally, but a handful are using them internally. Seifer’s website revamp project falls into both categories.

“CMR plans to use topic blogs for external communication,” he says. “We plan to use socialtext or a similar tool for project team and internal communications. These tools also function as blogs, but their utility extends well beyond blogs.”

Interestingly, CMR are breaking away from the ‘traditional’ internal blog – if such a thing exists with a tool still in its infancy. Most companies use a blog from the CEO or another director to communicate to employees. CMR plans to allow everyone in the company to post, subject to their comments being moderated by an executive editor.

The web revamp project started at the beginning of June, and is being delivered in a relatively short period of time. “The site architecture and wireframe design are completed,” Seifer says. “The back end administration modules and front-end design are nearly complete. The site is on a development server, and will be launched within the next 30 days, along with the topic blogs.”

Topic blogs are going to be the external face of CMR blogging. Seifer believes they are particularly relevant to the way in which CMR works. “One goal is finding our friends – taking our message to the market effectively and at relatively low cost,” he adds. “Blogs are a low-cost low risk interactive communications channel. Another goal is having meaningful and wide-ranging conversations about retailing. Blogs allow us to provide a taste of what we think about and how we think.”

Generally, blogs are seen as a positive contribution to communication but it’s not all roses. Liz Guthridge’s consultancy has come up with some Lessons Learned and one of them makes it clear that technology can hinder as well as help communication. I’ll be looking at blogging for project teams in another post, probably at the end of August, so watch this space for how to get the most out of an internal blog if you want to use one with your team.

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About Elizabeth Harrin

Elizabeth HarrinElizabeth Harrin FAPM is a professional project manager and award-winning blogger behind A Girl's Guide To Project Management. She's passionate about demystifying project management and making tools and techniques work in the real world. She's also the author of several books including the PMI bestseller, Collaboration Tools for Project Managers.
Elizabeth lives in the UK with her family. She uses her organisation and project management skills at home, and also to help other bloggers at Totally Organised Blogging.

Comments

  1. Barry Seifer says

    Hi Elizabeth,

    Thought you and your readers might be interested in this recent report on blogging from the Pew Internet Project.

    The report is a good overview on who is blogging and why.

  2. site admin says

    Hi Penina
    Yahoo groups have lots of advantages but some clients are worried (perhaps unnecessarily) of having a solution that is not hosted by themselves. Having your own internal server with blog software means your IT system are in control of it and it’s behind your firewalls. Forums or email lists like Yahoo are normally a closed community, and the conversations takes place between members of that group.

    John Cass, a Research Fellow for the Society for New Communications Research (http://blogsurvey.backbonemedia.com. ) told me recently that “The writing is done by and for the members of the [eg Yahoo group] community. Blogs are public, and in blogging communities the conversation is not within one website, it is a conversation between websites.”
    You could make your community your entire project team to get round this, and if you’re talking about internal things you could argue that you don’t need to have people linking all over the place anyway.
    Frankly, I’m all for internal communication – whatever way works best for you – as talking to people during projects is pretty much the only way to guarantee that things get done right!

  3. Penina says

    Hi Elizabeth,
    So far (which isn’t all that far), I’ve found that starting up a Yahoo Group -style community works quite well for internal communication. We have gotten close to setting up an internal blog for clients once or twice, only to come back around to the ease of use, built in extras (like calendars and databases) and no-cost solution of a Yahoo Group both times.
    -Penina

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