(Update: links added as the wi-fi improved)
I’m sitting in on the corporate blogging panel at Syndicate moderated by Charlene Li from Forrester, featuring Jeremy Zawodny (fellow Yahoo! and my cubemate), David Geller (WhatCounts), Greg Renaicker (Newsgator), and Jodi Baumann (Network Appliance — where Dave Hitz has a blog). A few random thoughts on the panel (if you’re looking for a blow-by-blow summary of the panel, this is not it):
Early in the panel, someone in the audience asked Jeremy what a “blogroll” was when he used the term. I’m pointing that out not because it’s a bad question, but precisely because it’s a reasonable question for someone who wants to learn about blogging. Luckily, there’s a decent blogging glossary that I just found (though I’m not sure I’ve ever heard terms like “blogroach” before and many of the words are superfluous to someone who wants to understand the basics).
Earlier in the panel, Jodi Baumann said, “we’re a public company” a lot in describing their relatively conservative approach to their corporate blog — of course, so is Yahoo! (granted, we are a consumer-facing company, not a hardware company) I work at Yahoo! (so I’m biased), but I think the way Yahoo! handles “corporate blogging” is a model for any public company — and it hasn’t gotten us in trouble yet that I know of (same goes for Microsoft and Sun, of course). We have a handful of official Yahoo! blogs (Y! Search blog, Y! Developer Network blog), but the corporate blogging policy (PDF) for individuals with their own blogs (which I think is reasonable and necessary for a large public company) allows and encourages blogging within well-conceived guidelines that address appropriate legal issues. Official corporate blogs aside, as the talent wars heat up again in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, I think encouraging employees to express themselves in their personal blogs is a competitive advantage in hiring. In that sense, I think companies thinking about “corporate blogging” should have the courage to extend their policies to address employee blogs explicitly. Yahoo’s blogging policy was a big factor in why I joined the company (and since I joined, my blog has helped me meet people within Yahoo! which has helped me get up-to-speed faster).
There’s also a “just do it” quality to blogs (again, within reason). Charlene Li noted in closing the panel that the first GM blog went from conception to launch in eight days. If GM can do it in eight days (with all the legal issues of a giant public company), it shouldn’t take much longer than that for any company to do it.