So Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine (required reading as far as I am concerned) posts the following:

Well, golly, look at this. I get a comment‘ on the post below from someone who says he’s working for Dell:

Hey Jarvis. I honestly think you have no life. Honestly? Do you have a life, or do just spend it trying to make Dell miserable. I’ve been working with Dell the past three weeks researching trashy blogs that worms like you leave all over that frigen blogosphere and I cant honestly say that Dell is trying to take a step towards fixing their customer service. They hire guys like me to go on the web and look through the blogs of guys like you in hopes that we can find out your problem and fix it. But honestly I dont think you have a problem Dell can fix. Your problem is you have no life.

The guy who left that post was too chicken to leave his or her last name. But Chris did leave his or her domain and it does, indeed, come from GCI Group, a division of Grey Worldwide, the giant ad agency. GCI brags that it is working for Dell, “Rebuilding Corporate Reputation Through Grassroots Effort.”

The net-net is Chris’ supervisor at GCI pinged back to say that Chris was a summer intern whose opinions didn’t reflect GCI or Dell.

Stories like that make my job, and the jobs of a lot of other people in the tech/creative/marketing nexus that much more difficult.

Clients arent stupid. They know the blogosphere exists. Companies want to participate in the bigger conversation and ‘play in the sandbox’. It takes time, and handholding, and justification and examples and a really solid framework to get clients off the sidelines.

You spend a lot of time educating the client on the social mores and rituals and expectations of the blogosphere. You talk about how the idea of linking away from the site brings users back. You spend time explaining how RSS, trackback and pings work.

You spend a lot of time showing how blogging is different. You spend even more time talking about authenticity, honesty, true voices and putting a human face on a corporation. You spend a lot of time discussing the ‘scary’ side of blogging: not controlling the message, users having a forum that you cant shut down, a blogger going ‘off message’ when we arent trying to control a message but start a conversation.

You give them as much info as possible to make a decision. You show them how they can participate in the blogosphere without ‘shilling’ or being obnoxious. You guide them down the road. You get the clients thatclose.

And then some summer intern does something like the above. I would love to see the Dell one2one blog discuss this tomorrow. Hell, maybe they will even bring up the fact that some people have had serious customer service problems (like Jarvis). We shall see.

I am not going to stop pitching clients on the value of blogging and how they can get involved. Stories like the above go into my “blogging mistakes we can learn from’ slide in the deck.

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