Big Companies Form Private Blog Council

bcouncil Tomorrow morning AccuQuote, Cisco Systems, The Coca-Cola Company, Dell, Gemstar-TV Guide, General Motors, Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft, Nokia, SAP, Starwood Hotels & Resorts and Wells Fargo will announce the formations of “The Blog Council.” These top global brands want to promote best practices in corporate blogging.

Issues the Council says it will address:

  • How do global brands manage blogs in more than one language?
  • What do you do when 2000 employees have personal blogs?
  • What is the role of the corporate brand in a media landscape increasingly geared toward consumer-generated media?
  • What is the correct way to engage and respond to bloggers who write about your company?

Here’s an interesting statement from the release:

The Blog Council exists as a forum for executives to meet one another in a private, vendor-free environment and share tactics, offer advice based on past experience, and develop standards-based best practices as a model for other corporate blogs.

That fascinates me. It tells me companies want a discussion without biased commentary from PR firms, bloggers and consultants (like me) that want their business. And at the same time maybe they want to talk about things like when to get support from consultants and PR firms, how to “manage” disgruntled consumers, astroturfing incidents etc., without catching a bunch of grief about being unethical.

In a separate FAQ document, the council stated, “Big companies have unique issues when blogging. There isn’t really any other forum that focuses on the needs of this group.”

I admit that’s probably true. And it’s probably a great idea to vet best practices. Some companies probably feel safer doing that in private.

Is it a good thing or a bad thing that these discussions are taking place behind closed doors? Are we back to Command and Control? One thing is clear. Transparency is not going to be at a premium.

A word of caution to the Council. It would be really unfortunate if this council produced a questionable community management principles document. Please be sure to vet best practices with enough members of the communities you want to manage.

As Shel said this morning, “Don’t pitch the conversational network. Join it. Start your own blog… Be part of the conversation so that we bloggers can see who you are and what yo do and what you have to say.”