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About The Authors

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw Charman-Anderson is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK’s best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and yes, she’s married to Kevin.

Email Suw

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson

Kevin Anderson is a freelance journalist and digital strategist with more than a decade of experience with the BBC and the Guardian. He has been a digital journalist since 1996 with experience in radio, television, print and the web. As a journalist, he uses blogs, social networks, Web 2.0 tools and mobile technology to break news, to engage with audiences and tell the story behind the headlines in multiple media and on multiple platforms.

From 2009-2010, he was the digital research editor at The Guardian where he focused on evaluating and adapting digital innovations to support The Guardian’s world-class journalism. He joined The Guardian in September 2006 as their first blogs editor after 8 years with the BBC working across the web, television and radio. He joined the BBC in 1998 to become their first online journalist outside of the UK, working as the Washington correspondent for BBCNews.com.

And, yes, he’s married to Suw.

E-mail Kevin.

Member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup
Dark Blogs Case Study

Case Study 01 - A European Pharmaceutical Group

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Interview series:
at the FASTforward blog. Amongst them: John Hagel, David Weinberger, JP Rangaswami, Don Tapscott, and many more!

Corante Blog

Tuesday, September 14th, 2004

When will corporate blogging be recognised as a desirable skill?

Posted by Suw Charman-Anderson

Matthew Oliphant from BusinessLogs talks about companies who specify blogging as a core skill when hiring, in particularly The Robot Co-Op who have posted job vacancies on their blog.

I don’t think this is really that surprising a development. Blogs are a great window onto someone’s life and thought processes and it’s inevitable that they’ll increasingly be used as a tool for both people looking for jobs and companies seeking new employees. Blogs are, after all, just logical extensions of the traditional website jobs page and the online portfolio/CV.

Oliphant also points to Heather Leigh who asks, What is it going to take for (corporate) blogging to become a job skill? Heather outlines a number of key skills which she thinks contribute towards success as a blogger:

- An ability to gauge relevance
- Strong written communications skills
- An ability to filter for appropriateness
- Original opinions or an ability to contribute original thoughts to existing discussions
- Diplomacy skills

I agree with all of these points, but I think there are other barriers that need to be overcome before corporates accept blogging as a desirable skill, and they have little to do with what it takes to be a good blogger.

Getting buy-in
Good blogging, the sort of blogging that gives your company a good reputation, takes time. Anyone who is experienced in writing original posts understands this, but new bloggers may not and managers who haven’t ever blogged almost certainly will not. The blogger and manager need to be committed to the blog - the blogger in order to actually blog, the manager in order to provide the support required to blog.

The Invisible Work Problem
Much of our modern work ethic is based around the visibility of our tasks. We have open plan offices, public calendars, meetings, milestones, expectations. There is a need to be seen to be Doing Stuff. That’s why slacking off at work is easy if you’re pretending to actually work, but work that makes you look like you’re not working can create difficulties if managers and colleagues immediately assume the worst.

Blogging takes a lot of reading and thinking. These are non-visible activities, but they are essential to a good blog. If you can’t spent two hours just reading without raising suspicions, then your blog is going to suffer. Much of this is down to trust - you need your manager and your colleagues to trust that you’re getting on with stuff even if you look like you’re not. Surfing the net and reading RSS feeds are seen by many as skiving activities, but they are meat and drink to the blogger.

Clarifying the lines
What can and can’t you blog? This question needs to be answered very, very clearly in the blogger’s head. Mostly, one would hope that employees understand what they can and can’t talk about publicly, but that doesn’t stop people being fired for blogging. (Ostensibly, at least - we usually only get half the story when bloggers are fired, and that half is possibly the least rational of the two.) Clarity on this issue is essential - it’s not about trying to neuter the blog with a list of dos and don’ts, but of attempting to ensure that PR snafus never arise.

Prioritisation
How important is the blog to the company? Where does it sit within the blogger’s other responsibilities? Should they be blogging regularly or only when they have a light work load? How much of their time should they spend blogging?

Again, this comes back to issues of management buy-in, trust and time. Tacking a blog on to someone’s existing responsibilities without considering the impact of the additional work is only going to make life difficult for the blogger and will result in a poor blog. Expectations need to be set and managed. Again, clarity is important.

There are other issues to the acceptance of blogging as a core skill in business, but management and blogger alike must take into account these sorts of practical considerations in order for the bloggers to have the opportunity to blog well. It goes without saying that there is still a lot of suspicion about blogging in the business world, so attending to the practical and proving that you’ve thought these things through can go a long way towards helping overcome those barriers of unfamiliarity.

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6 Responses to “When will corporate blogging be recognised as a desirable skill?”

  1. Xueilonox Says:

    You could really combine buy-in and the invisible work problem into one category named dedicated time.

    I had no idea that it would be as time consuming as it is. I’ve spent up to six hours working on just one entry. You realize quickly that publishing anything without some thought is a waste of everyones time.

    I write more about my experience here:

    http://www.digitalmerging.la/archives/2004/09/what_it_takes_to_blog.html

  2. Riccardo "Bru" Cambiassi Says:

    Great one Suw!
    You perfectly summarized the discussion we had on the subject during BlogWalk, and added a lot of interesting points!
    Thanks :)
    I think that for what concerns me, tha main difficulty has been crossing the line between “clandestine” and “legitimate” blogger, since it requires a good cocktail of trust in what you do, vision, and commitment :)

  3. Suw Charman Says:

    Bru: Yes, and the ironic thing is that I wrote it before BlogWalk!

  4. N.F. Says:

    You hit this right on the nose! I really enjoy your weblog and I was so fascinated to find you discussing this exact issue after having had a conversation with a friend on the topic last night. I’ll be visiting here often, do you mind if I add you to my blog list?

  5. Zane Safrit Says:

    I loved your comment about “surfing the net and reading rss feeds”. Since adding a blog for our company I’ve rearranged my daily schedule to come in early for 2 quiet hours just for that very purpose: “surfing the net and reading rss feeds”. After sharing an interesting rss feed with the company, one person asked me if all I do is read a lot….

    But the blog’s proving successful with 5 new business relationships developed, a radio interview, and being profiled as a ‘blogging company’.

  6. Terrance Says:

    This is so my life right now. Basically, I got my job — with a political/internet consulting company — because of my blog. They saw my blog, emailed me, interviewed me and hired me because of my personal blog. Now I’m running and contributing to a blog for one of our clients. It’s a little different than running my personal blog, for sure, but I’m still reading the same things I read before, and writing about the same things I did before.

    The question of what I can and can’t blog about has come up, but when it’s a question of how far I can go or how much I can say in a post, it just goes onto my personal blog. What has changed is that I find myself thinking twice about what I decide to post or not post on my personal blog about myself or my life, because now I know that people I deal with in my everyday life read it, and — being human — I have some investment in what they think of me. I have to think about what I want the people I’m around on a daily basis to know or not know.

    Suddenly I have to decide what part of my life are for public consumption. I never had to do that before I started blogging.