Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Yet the Latest Watershed for Blogging

As the blogging/self-publishing phenomenon continues to spread ever more widely into the culture, even the dimmest amateur trend-spotter (such as myself) who pays attention to their environment could point to the latest meaningful watershed event just about every day. But I tend to think that far fewer of these are really pregnant with much wider meaning.

One, however, has just happened. In the latest (September) issue of the uniquely influential Harvard Business Review (sorry, you're gonna have to pay dearly for online or hard-copy access), an interesting story about blogging makes it not merely into the feature well but into the hallowed HBR Case Study format. Entitled "A Blogger in Their Midst," it tells a fascinating little tale about an old-fashioned big-company CEO who's about to speak at an industry conference, only to find that his audience has been utterly canibalized by another speaker in the same time slot. His dismay turns to confusion when he learns that that speaker happens to be one of his (unknown to him) junior employees who has become famous throughout the industry for her influential and widely read blog, which has attracted interest to the company's new product line as no million-dollar ad campaign ever could. The subject of her talk: "Blogging as the ultimate customer intimacy tool." The story, capped off with commentary by four leading management thinkers, unfolds as a voyage of discovery for the CEO. "You remember that book I gave you last year about gonzo marketing?" one of his associates asks him. "Her blog works just like that. These things get close to the customer in ways that an ad campaign just can't." I expect that a few thousand CEO's will be flipping through it in coming days and weeks (for many it will be the first time they're really encountered the word), making a note for the management committee or marketing department to provide some input and/or followup. In any event, it surely won't hurt the progress of business blogging any...


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