I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the potential impact of blogging in a corporate enviornment. Whenever anyone asks me to explain corporate blogging I bring up the name of Robert Scoble, a blogging technical evangelist at Microsot. Scoble gives a human face and voice to a huge and seemingly faceless company. I recently ran into an entry from Gapingvoid [via The Mobile Technology Weblog] titled “Scobleized” about Scoble:
Ask me to name what I think is the most brilliant piece of new advertising I’ve come across in the last 5 years.
My answer would not be some big, funky-dunky campaign from a company like Apple or Volkswagon.
My answer would not be something from some edgy, hipster, in-your-face creative hot-shop in downtown Manhattan or London.
My answer would be Robert Scoble, a regular guy with a regular job who blogs regularly about the company he works for. That company happens to be Microsoft.
I seriously believe Robert, on Microsoft’s behalf, is making more advertising history at this very moment than all the creative hot-shops combined. He is changing the game beyond all recognition. The hot-shops are not.
And he’s probably doing it at less than 1% of the price the conventional agencies are used to charging.
So if you find yourself working in advertising, you now have two choices:
1. Try to prove folks like me wrong or
2. Get with the program.
A lot of people will opt for Choice Number 1. A lot of them will lose everything.
I don’t see Scoble as PR in the traditional sense of the word. There’s an honesty to what Scoble says that many PR agents seem to have a great deal of trouble getting across. During my time at American Demographics I ran into any number of PR people trying to pitch me on a multitude of ideas. The only ones I ever listened to were those who had a certain amount of passion in their voice. It wasn’t as though they were trying to sell me on something, but rather that they were interested in having a conversation with me. I must admit that in the end I never actually wrote a story from a PR pitch. However, there were a number of stories I wrote because of (or at least influenced by) blogs. A good blog becomes like a friend: It’s a trusted source you can communicate with. I never feel like I’m being pitched by Scoble. Rather, I feel as though there’s this Microsoft employee who is an admitted geek and likes to tell people about technology and all the other stuff he’s interested in (and it just so happens that much of the technology he uses is Microsoft related).
Any amount of advertising by Microsoft wouldn’t effect me in the way that Scoble has. While I’m not sold on Microsoft, it gives me faith in the company to know that somebody there gets it. I feel like I know someone at the company and if I ever had a question I could always just write Scoble and ask him (I emailed him an article I wrote about RSS and got a reply within days). Scoble puts his cell phone number, email and IM name up on his site.
I believe Scoble is helping to lead a revolution to change the way that companies deal with consumers. It’s about honest and open lines of communication in an increasingly transparent society. I agree with Hugh at Gapingvoid, companies who ignore this trend will fall on their face as consumers use their new digital tools to find another company that does or makes the exact same thing they do.