Marketing and PR are changing. I think the Cluetrain Manifesto is spot on, markets are becoming conversations and that puts an ever greater premium on listening to your customers and respecting them in all communications (click on the link and scroll down for the 95 theses quick study). Blogging is a great way of doing that, but not the only way. It is possible to be honest and transparent using traditional media and talk to your customers on the telephone (although many people seem to believe otherwise, Scoble & Israel have quite an extreme position, Naked Conversations was nearly called “Blog or Die”).
Where I think blogs come into their own for small companies is when there is something unique and special about the business – which should make it relevant for just about every VC investment. Writing a good blog can be the best/easiest/cheapest way of getting your thoughts, ideas and status as market-thought-leader accepted, first in the blogoshphere and then the rest of the world afterwards.
So far so obvious.
Where life gets difficult is deciding where this fits in with the myriad of other things that always need doing. Blogging is still sufficiently new that there are insufficient case studies to make having a blog a no brainer, plus there is a lot of fear, uncertainty and maybe ignorance out there as well – it can be a tough sell getting an exec team to buy into the need. Plus there is the issue of who might write it – it takes a certain type of person to write a good blog and there may not be one of those in the company, and writing a bad blog is worse than not writing one at all.
No general answers here, but writing this post has strengthened my belief that blogs are a tool that most VC backed businesses should be adopting.
I’m also a bit wary about having the zeal of a convert, kind of like when someone has stopped smoking and keeps trying to pursuade everyone else to give up. Blogging has already been good to me for the three short months I have been at it. Posting forces me to think more clearly and pursue half thought arguments through to conclusion and I can feel the benefits in my everyday dialogue. And I’ve enjoyed it.