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.