Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Sicko corporate blogging debate

Corporate blogging – those two words seem worlds apart in the context of Singapore. Even as I type this sentence out, 70% of voters on Marketing’s weekly snap poll felt that corporate blogging wouldn’t even take off in Asia yet alone succeed in Singapore.

Many heads of organisations here, and correct me if I am wrong, feel the blogosphere (sorry guys I know everyone hates that word) isn’t a safe place for their brands to be – afraid of criticisms and half truths I assume.

The thing is – the argument for and against companies engaging in corporate blogging are both valid and once the brand decides to start a blog, then the rules of engagement further murky the water on what’s acceptable or not. Yes, even the blogosphere has self govern rules amongst bloggers on what’s acceptable corporate blogging decorum.

So let’s have a look at a recent corporate blogging mishap from a company which has been known to use blogs to reach the public – Google.

The incident came about after Google employee, Lauren Turner went on the offensive over the latest Michael Moore movie ‘Sicko’ in which he takes a swing at the highly profitable American health industry. Turner’s comments on the then impending release of movie went like this:

“While legislators, litigators, and patient groups are growing excited, others among us are growing anxious. And why wouldn’t they? Moore attacks health insurers, health providers, and pharmaceutical companies by connecting them to isolated and emotional stories of the system at its worst. Moore’s film portrays the industry as money and marketing driven, and fails to show healthcare’s interest in patient well-being and care,”

“Or, as is often common, the media may use an isolated, heartbreaking, or sensationalist story to paint a picture of healthcare as a whole. With all the coverage, it’s a shame no one focuses on the industry’s numerous prescription programs, charity services, and philanthropy efforts,” she wrote.

What’s the big deal you may ask? Well she posted the article in an official Google blog, thus blurring the line between ‘own opinions’ and ‘company opinions’. Turner later said her post contained her views and her views only but then included in her post was a plug for Google services.

“Many of our clients face these issues; companies come to us hoping we can help them better manage their reputations. Your brand or corporate site may already have these informational assets, but can users easily find them?”

“We can place text ads, video ads, and rich media ads in paid search results or in relevant websites within our ever-expanding content network. Whatever the problem, Google can act as a platform for educating the public and promoting your message,”

If you’re interested in learning more about issue management campaigns or about how we can help your company better connect its assets online, email us. We’d love to hear from you,” she wrote.

It wasn’t clear whose opinions she was expressing and the bloggers went to work, blasting the company for catering to the insurance industry and for its increasingly closer ties with corporate advertising.

Undeserved heat or are you with the bloggers on this one? You tell me.


Pa;efire said...

I don't see what's the fuss. Even if the blog states that the author's opinion is of his/her own, it still has the company's name on it. If she wants to state something out of her company's line of work, she can always setup her blog site.

Pa;efire said...

I do suggest anonymous comment or at least allow people who doesn't want to use a Google Account to comment