I am actually on a road show through Europe with David Weinberger who is doing some talks for us in various countries. We began with France on monday, yesterday we were in Germany and today we are flying in Italy where I'll stay two days.
It is amazing to see that whatever the country is, the same questions or should I rather say "fears" remains: people are scared to loose "control" on information.... ( I am back now to continue this post and just saw that David blogged a summary of our two days, so have a look there, he is a much better writer than I am as everyone knows...;o))
So now I am really back on this post (3 hours later...), and you know what, I am out for my first night in Milan and I just forgot my luggage at the office...;o) Yes I know, it's silly, but we went out for diner following a meeting, and I didn't even think I wasn't in my city, it's only while I was reaching the hotel that I realised I might have forgotten something useful... Well... I've also been lucky in another way because as the men at the reception desk learned that I had nothing with me (except by chance my laptop, thanks God, I can blog !), so he gave me a 60 m2 appartement...;o) Hey, italian guys are really cool, are they ? By the way, if you go in Milan and need a hotel, should go in this one, Una Tock hotel !
So, back to this three days tour in France, Germany and Italy. Loose of control, getting bad comments, legacy issue, are the three main fears that people have been showing. But this is it: as soon as you decide to engage conversation with an audience, you're exposing yourself, you're taking the risk to not been appreciate by everyone, to get critics, perhaps even injuries if you're handling strong position on a sensitive topic. But it is all what real life is about and here the question is also to get back to some human voice. Perfection is so boring, no one will ever read you because there is nothing to ad to perfection.
More over, every company or brand should not obviously launch a blog. But at least, every company should listen to the online world. Then, depending of brand culture, your market, your actual situation, you might want to choose another channel that might be more appropriate and less "risky": begin by adding RSS feeds to your website to let people decide themselves if they want to get information about you, have a look on blogs related to your market, and engage the conversation through the comments. When you feel comfortable with this new way of communicating, you can consider blogging yourself first of all perhaps internally, then invite some partners, customers you trust to participate, go step by step, no one requires from you to launch an employee blogging portal just now...
Another question that came out was related to opening comments and the risk to get insults or racism messages who would be then hosted by the brand... Ok, as you have to define blogging policy, you also have to announce which kind of comments won't be allowed and accepted, as soon as you're transparent since the very beginning, no one will complain, it' s just about giving the rules of the game... Opening comments doesn't mean you have to tolerate any kind of comments, but it means that it belongs to you to explain what you will not tolerate, since the very first beginning of your blog.