• NevOn
    NevOn is the archive weblog of Neville Hobson, a British business communicator based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, a record of commentary and conversations from December 2002 until 22 February 2006. This site is no longer updated - please visit www.nevillehobson.com.
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    For Immediate Release: The Hobson & Holtz Report - A bi-weekly podcast for professional communicators from Neville Hobson, ABC, and Shel Holtz, ABC.

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2006 Public Speaking

  • Delivering The New PR – How Blogs, Podcasts and RSS Can Work For You - Manchester, UK, February 15, 2006

    New Communications Forum 2006 - Palo Alto, USA, March 1-3, 2006

    Blogging for Business - London, April 4, 2006

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2005 Public Speaking

  • Les Blogs 2.0 - Paris, December 5-6, 2005

    IABC EuroComm 2005 - Paris, Nov 30 - Dec 2, 2005

    Melcrum workshop on New Media - London, November 29, 2005

    Making the News: Blogging, Really Simple Syndication and The New PR - Sunderland, UK, November 18, 2005

    Emerce E-Day - Amsterdam, October 12, 2005

    Global PR Blog Week 2.0 - September 19-23, 2005

    PodcastCon UK - September 17, 2005

    The Communication Directors' Forum

    New Communications Forum 2005 - Napa, USA, January 26-27, 2005

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  • Comprehensive list of corporate blogs on The New PR Wiki. Also there: list of CEO blogs, product blogs, podcasts and more.



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« Les Blogs kicks off | Main | Les Blogs afternoon »

25 April 2005


Thomas Biegi

Darren's words sound a bit catchy – and they probably are – but only to a certain extent. While corporate blogging is definitely a task of the public relations folks, it will never be able to build the same trust and credibility a blogging employee is able to achieve. Microsoft’s Robert Scoble is just one example.

So, it’s not about canceling corporate blogging. It’s all about choosing the right (communications) tool for each goal and each situation.

Nick Mudge

I like it.

Gary Goldhammer

Without context it's difficult to comment, but if Shel and Scoble say you must "blog or die," and Darren says "PR shouldn't blog," then does that mean PR people are all going to die? SInce I do more marketing communcations than public relations, does that mean I can keep blogging, and therefore continue to live? I haven't felt so conflicted since Bush's last tax cut :-)

S'amuser bien, Neville!


To give it a little context, I was referring to in-house PR people inside a company. Halley asked me who the best people to blog were, the CEO, people on the factory floor or the PR department. 9 times out of 10, they're the worst choice as a corporate blogger or storyteller. Why? Because they've been trained to spin, to emphasize, to adhere to the message and to obfuscate the truth.

In my experience, PR and marketing people in a company are the least in favour of launching a blog. That tells me a lot about their appropriateness as company bloggers.

On the other hand, I think PR professionals should blog about their profession (or anything else they want). I we can all agree, though, that authenticity--that cornerstone of blogging--is hardly the most common noun associated with PR folks.


PR departments are going to use blogs as blogs are a powerful tool for communicating with stakeholders and publics. And why do we assume that people aren't able to distinguish spin from fact. It's quickly apparent when a blog is pitching something other than a true voice, so surely a PR dept would be foolish to attempt it (there are enough disgruntled employees within any org to quickly point out discrepencies). If PR people stick to the basic principles, why shouldn't they use the tool? I get the feeling that many of these discussions are not about whether PR should do this or that, but are more about whether PR ought to do anything!

I would like to think that PR people would be advising on blogging as much as TV appearances or interviews in papers - we don't manipulate the CEO as a puppet (PR as evil puppet master, hmmm!), but enable them to communicate effectively in a given medium - tv, print or blog. This may be a rose-tinted view, but there you go.

BTW, how are external PR people more truthful than internal people.


Let's take a different tact. When I read a company blog, why am I doing so?

* To garner insight from key personnel
* To learn about its processes (development, manufacturing, distribution, etc).
* To receive tips and tricks about its products and services
* To become better informed about the company's industry
* Because I admire the company, and want to learn more about them
* To get good gossip

In most of those cases, the company's PR representatives (internal or external--apologies for not being clearer) are the worst people to satisfy these needs. Let's look at a few examples:

* McDonalds - I might want to hear about strategy and forecasting from the CEO or stories from the Friday night fry guy.
* A dairy farm - The farmer, obviously, or people who supervise the, er, conversion of the milk into cheese, yogurt or what-have-you.
* A software company - The people building the software or the visionary behind the product.

If we examine the business blogs gone horribly wrong, they reek of failed PR efforts--the McDonalds blog, the Pepsi blog, the Dr. Pepper business.

In short, the average PR person doesn't have many stories to tell that are germaine to a company blog. Or if they do, they've received those stories from someone else in the company, and blogs are about hearing it from the horse's mouth.


I think that there is a distinction between 'fake blogs' driven by misguided PR efforts and company blogs in which the PR department has some guiding hand. I don't think that it is the case that PR involvement in corporate blogs is inherently wrong, just that it has to be done very carefully and light touch. In our organisation we don't get involved with employee blogs - we trust them. If the VC wished to use a blog as a formal comms tool, then he would expect input from PR - just as if he was preparing a presentation for a General Meeting. I am not going to write his entry for him, but I might point out to him issues that would be of interest to staff, stakeholders or others and trust him to get on with it as we do in other matters.

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