By Karen E. Klein
A Company Blog Keeps People Connected
Blogs can help businesses communicate internally more effectively and cheaply than e-mail and workflow management software
I read your recent columns on blogging as a marketing tool and
I wondered how something like a blog might be of use for internal
communications.--C.C., Naperville, Ill.
As a tool for cost-conscious small businesses, employee
communication blogs can be extremely useful, experts say. Employees can
generate the content, as opposed to having a third party interview
employees and write the stories for a company newsletter. There is no
added cost with each new issue, as there is with a print newsletter.
And once you have the blogging tool in place and employees know how to
use it, content can be updated as frequently, or infrequently, as is
There are other choices for businesses that communicate
internally using the Internet, says Teresa Valdez Klein of Blog
Business Summit. "There are three options at present: e-mail, some kind
of 'workflow management' software, or an internal blog. E-mail
communications can quickly degenerate into a maze of attachments, cc's,
and bcc's. Even the best workflow management systems can be cumbersome
"Internal blogs are certainly not perfect, but
they're incredibly easy to use by comparison," Klein says. "New
developments can be posted and categorized for easy cross-referencing.
Discussion can take place in the comments section, and documents can be
edited communally using Wiki software. What's more, a new team member
can quickly get up to speed on any project by simply reading the blog.""TALKING SPACE."
However, because blogs are bottom-up in nature, they sometimes require
a change in thinking about employee communications, says Jeneane
Sessum, a social media consultant based in Atlanta. The traditional
top-down communication approach, where the CEO or HR manager pushes
policies and procedures out to employees, can be subverted by an
internal blog, which is communal by nature.
An employee blog
will serve more as a "...centralized talking space for company news and
views, customer wins, etc.," Sessum explains. "Blogs put the nexus of
control, at least from a communication standpoint, in the hands of
employees, thereby empowering them. At the same time, because internal
blogs remain within the firewall, they are a good venue for honest
communication and collaboration in a relatively safe environment for
businesses that are just getting used to the idea of blogging and may
view it as sort of renegade."
You can structure your company
blog several ways. As the CEO, you or another executive could start a
blog and invite communication from and about employees. Or, you can set
up separate team blogs that centralize information by division. You can
even encourage and train employees in how to set up their own
individual blogs. "Internal blogs can serve to 'de-silo' information,
even within smaller companies," notes Toby Bloomberg of Bloomberg
"The lines of communication between departments can be difficult to
maneuver. Blogs can be a means to easily share information that might
not be perceived as relevant to one department, but critical to
another. An added benefit is that informal team-building occurs
naturally. There is ongoing personal communication, so people begin to
know and understand folks from areas of the company they might not have
had a lot of contact with."
Bloomberg adds a word of caution:
"Although it's not a top-down strategy, unless management and the
company culture support this type of informal communication it is set
to fail before the first word is posted. It's critical that the company
provide training and encouragement, especially in the beginning stages."
Business Summit, Klein's firm, is scheduled to host a conference where
experts will discuss how internal blogs can help businesses. The
conference will be held Oct. 25-27 in Seattle. More information is
available at her site blogbusinesssummit.com
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