Note: this post has been revised to make it easier to read.

Reading some of the better known Big Brand blogs you'd never know the nation's economic ship is listing sharply and BTW it's going to affect all of us, globally. Tom Friedman reminds us in the New York Times that this is an unprecedented scary moment (Sept. 30, 2008). He ranks it with the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK's assassination and 9/11.

Above, the Delta blog writes in happy-speak about sponsoring the World Business Forum featuring top political and business figures from Jack Welch to Rudy Giuliani... hey, maybe there's a tie-in to the crisis here.

OK, so things move slowly in corporate America. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that corporate blogs are not reacting and that most of them are saying nothing about the meltdown.

As an example, Southwest Airlines, which has one of the best corporate blogs, didn't have a plan to use the blog effectively during the aircraft inspection crisis last winter.

This is an opportunity lost. Many companies have much to tell us, or can educate us, on what this all means. I certainly don't pretend to understand entirely what the ripple effect through the economy will be. Why not use the corporate blog platform for what it can be -- a revolutionary publishing channel that enables companies to speak directly to customers, to inform and possibly influence them, without the filter of MSM.

Here's my attempt to nudge some Big Brand blogs into talking about the elephant in the room.

My suggestions for what corporate blogs could write about to address the economic crisis

Delta: Should You Expect Higher Costs for Air Travel? or What the Buzz (Really) Was at the World Business Forum

Southwest Airlines: Why Southwest Is the Best Airline to Fly in Turbulent Times (cuz it's more fun... ?)

JNJ BTW: The Connection Between the Meltdown on Wall Street and Our Strained Healthcare System (this is a fascinating, if complex, topic)

Toyota: Will the Economic Crisis Mean Higher Car Payments? (or difficulty in getting car financing... explain it to us)

Bill Marriott's Blog: How the Economic Crisis Will Affect Your Stay in Marriotts Around the World (I don't know the answer... but as CEO he certainly has something to say about this)

A few corporate blogs doing it right

BTW, kudos to Wells Fargo's Student LoanDown for this recent entry: Grad school: not a bailout plan.

As well as to Benetton Talk for an entry that begins: The American economic system is collapsing... Regardless of whether you like the politics of the Benetton blog (liberal), the entry points us to an interesting Wired article on The 2008 Smart List: 15 People the Next President Should Listen To.

And to GM's Fastlane: CEO Rick Wagoner Discusses Government-Backed Loans for Automakers. (I didn't see an obvious tie-in to the bailout but maybe I missed it.)

Hat tip to Paul Gillin

Hat Tip to Paul Gillin for the say-nothing pointers. Paul looked this week at what a number of Big Brand corporate blogs are saying about the current economic crisis: nothing.

His headline is spot on: Corporate Blogs Blather While Markets Tumble.

On his list of say-nothings: Kodak's entry about the two-year anniversary of its 1000 Words blog; Accenture Consultants Blog (not updated since July 2008); Wells Fargo's Guided By History's post about a mean rattlesnake and so on.

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Previous Comments

jon buscall said on October 4, 2008 at 01:35 AM

Great point Debbie. I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately -– http://is.gd/303i – about crisis management and blogging too. I was fascinated to see how so many dog breed clubs were left struggling to get any kind of response out after the BBC in the UK broadcast a documentary that exposed Crufts and dog breeders as about as corrupt as you can get.

Non-profits like breed clubs have websites but often don’t have blogs, amazingly enough which would expedite response time.

I think a lot of this is about not knowing how to respond, even if you have the tools (blogs, twitter, social media, etc). The tools make it easy, but actually getting involved and putting content out there that engages in the debate can be scary. Especially when some corporations put non-communications people in charge of writing the blog.

Debbie Weil said on October 4, 2008 at 05:13 AM

Jon,

I really enjoy your comments. Went back over to your site and was intrigued by how you’re using Tinderbox to organize your writing projects (I’ve downloaded it and now need to learn how to use it—should we do a Skype call??). Also saw your post on the BBC hiring a blogger-in-residence for 6 months. A great idea and one that more organizations should adopt.

Andee Sellman, One Sherpa said on October 4, 2008 at 07:18 AM

Hi Debbie,
Great post again and hopefully more corporate people take heed of your encouragement to particiapte in sharing their ideas during this time of great movement in the financial markets.
I suspect that many of them are still inwardly focused as we’ve talked about before BUT the more it’s pointed out to them that they could join a debate like this the better.
I suspect that many corporate people will catch on that there is a real financial crisis when it moves from the financial markets to the physical and commodity markets. By then, they’ll be way behind the eightball and playing catchup.

jon buscall said on October 4, 2008 at 07:32 AM

I’ve emailed you a Tinderbox Debbie. Hope that helps.

Ed Terpening, Social Media Team, Wells Fargo said on October 5, 2008 at 01:00 PM

Thanks for the kudos regarding our Student LoanDown blog’s timely reflection of our country’s recent economic events.  I think that blog is pretty good about putting into perspective the day’s news for their community of readers.

As for Guided by History, that blog is written by historians and museum curators (typically), so they often don’t cover immediate financial trends. I can see, however, that there is an opportunity for us to do more.

Vincent McBurney said on October 6, 2008 at 01:42 AM

It’s not just blogging - you should see the lingo from quarterly reports and the analyst conference calls that go with them.  I remember one analyst call with a software company earlier in the year where the credit crisis was referred to at different times as macro economic uncertainty, macro economic impact and the macro economic environment.  I think if they mention credit crisis three times they get eaten by the credit boogey man.

Tom Hoehn said on October 6, 2008 at 09:06 AM

Debbie, Tom from Kodak checking in. Here is the comment I posted on Paul’s blog post. I think it is worthwhile to share here as well. thx, tom
————————————————————————————
Paul, Tom from Kodak here. Interesting point but I want to offer a different view. A Thousand Words, as mentioned in our positioning statement, “is a place for stories from the people of Kodak.” We do have timely posts relating to certain events like Veteran’s Day, Olympics, etc. but it is not the place for issue-based conversations. Unless of course those issues center on trends in photography, uses of photos, product innovation, and so forth. That being said, Kodak is not silent on this issue. Our CEO is a signatory to a public letter that the Business Roundtable issued yesterday in which we joined dozens of other companies urging Congress to act fast. We are engaged we just didn’t use one of our blogs as the vehicle to deliver that message. Thanks for listening. -tom

jackie of teak furniture said on October 8, 2008 at 11:37 PM

Hey Deb! Great article by the way. I’d like to point out that many people are blogging irresponsibly nowadays. That’s why I agree that it should be the bigger corporations educating the masses, instead of other people (who know next to nothing) about their posts. All I see are consumer driven blog posts from companies, and I wonder sometimes if they’ve ever thought about actually letting us know what the heck is happening. But hey, that’s why I still pick up the newspaper every morning before going to work, so I don’t lose track of reality.

Robert Barr said on October 10, 2008 at 12:56 PM

Given the current financial climate, there is no better time to have a corporate blog. Nothing could be better to sooth worried customers, vendors and suppliers than having the CEO right out in front blogging as much as possible with candid, real time information on how the company is doing.

This financial meltdown with be the eyeopener corporate America needed to realize just in time isn’t just for inventory!

Getting out there and letting everyone know what the company is doing to overcome current economic conditions, and what they plan to do ( within reason) to stem the tide to come out on the other side a stronger, better organization. If you don’t have your CEO blogging, you are losing mind share!

Debbie Weil said on October 10, 2008 at 02:33 PM

Robert,

I couldn’t agree more. I like your emphasis on the positive… rather than fear and negativity. I suspect the most effective CEOs are thinking long-term. And if they can’t bring themselves to blog publicly, now is a perfect time to start an internal blog that speaks directly to employees.

affiliate marketing guide said on December 21, 2008 at 03:03 AM

Kodak is not silent on this issue. Our CEO is a signatory to a public letter that the Business Roundtable issued yesterday in which we joined dozens of other companies urging Congress to act fast. We are engaged we just didn’t use one of our blogs as the vehicle to deliver that message. Thanks for listening. -tom affiliate marketing blog

Marcus Evans said on February 9, 2009 at 03:45 PM

A corporate blog has to be understood from the top level down, and most CEO’s are new to the concept of dialogue instead of monologue with consumers.


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I’ve been writing about corporate and CEO blogging and business use of social media for over a decade. I welcome your Comments if they are on topic. I delete them if inappropriate or spammy.

 

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