Friday, April 4, 2008

BlogHer Business Conference 2008 Day 2 1:15 - 2:30: Overcoming Internal Objections 101

1:15-2:30 PM

Break-Out Session #2


Title: Overcoming Internal Objections 101

Track: Social Media Creation Best Practices 

Synopsis: As the head of all of Google's internal and external blogging efforts, Karen Wickre has seen and heard it all. Every objection, every concern, every barrier. Karen will moderate a discussion about how to answer the objections and concerns that arise when trying to sell a social media program internally. She'll be joined by experts who have successfully made the case for blogging at companies large and small, bureaucratic and free-wheeling, including: 

Yvonne Divita, who has gotten Purina dipping a toe and then diving right into blogging 

Lena West, an expert on helping companies figure out how to manage their time and resources to enable a social media program. 

Margaret Gurowitz will talk about managing her blog Kilmer House, a company blog at J&J, a company with a policy of no company blogs! 

Social Media Creation Best Practices Track is brought to you by Ogilvy's

Live Blog Post Begins:

Margaret – No blogs policy at J&J. 3 external blogs. 

Yvonne – felt Purina should be blogging. Lawyers wouldn’t let them. Yvonne was allowed to blog “under the radar.” So she did. They are now above the radar. It’s been very successful. 

Lena – CEO. “If you’ve heard and objection, I have an answer to it.”

Margaret – Consumer products and pharma side. Enables us to go back to the way we used to talk to people directly 100 years ago. 2006 was the anniversary of the San Fran Earthquake. J&J wanted to blog about the effort they put forward in San Fran. Idea was squashed. Privacy concerns. Legal concerns. Yet they had so much history to tell a great story. So they decided to blog about their history. 

Rather than go through the central authority, they wrote a business case and went to people one by one. “What are your concerns?” And one by one, they answered them. 

Kilmer House launched in the summer of 2006. Massive horrible things didn’t happen. Paved the way for “J&J by the way”. More approval was needed, but it happened. First pharma blog also just launched. 

There is brand value in the information that is put out on the blogs. Corporations love stuff they can measure. Reporters are finding them and their stories through the blog. 

Yvonne – went to interactive media director at Purina and convinced them to let her blog. The majority of pet owners are women. She has a background in veterinary medicine. She created a proposal and Purina sat on it for a while. “I got to be careful of lawyers.” So she went under the radar. And she said, “if you don’t do this, I’ll take it somewhere else.” And that got their attention. 

Clear cut guidelines were established. Some topics were off-limits. And that was fine. Press releases were modified and she talked about the content of what was in the press release. She begged them to let her talk to someone about it. She wanted to put something up on the blog. She couldn’t get someone to give her info from the company. Not a single bad comment was critical of Purina with the recall.                     

The blog has been up for a year and a half. Went to Purina’s interactive marketing summit. Each brand in Purina is its own little company. The success has helped to support other social media efforts. She is not an employee of Purina. 

Also now blogging for the Simon School at University of Rochester. Hugely successful. 

Lena – felt that the site for Women’s e-news needed some revamping. So she offered up her help. July 2007 started talks. Still just starting to move on the suggestions now. Their hesitation was journalistic integrity. Fine with the board and getting legal on board. They wanted to remain journalists. 

To move the social media agenda forward, someone needs to get the guts and get out there. It takes courage. 

Karen – objections are drawn from the worst case scenarios. It’s basically a fast publishing platform. “Speed is life.”

In the session there are a mix of people within companies who work on social media and people who are consulting to companies on social media. 

Karen - Google has about 110 blogs. About half are not in English. Each post is reviewed by someone in PR, though not legal. Legal has embraced blogging from the get-go. Education needed internally on how to create a personal, informal post. 

Lena – we work with multiple blog authors within the company. Anticipate objections and have an answer to them. Sometimes objectors in blogs can smell fear. Don’t give them the space to object. Think of scenarios and have answers. Maneuver in the situation. Fake it ‘til you make it.      

Yvonne – a lot of people want me to blog about them and their pets. Sometimes do – for example with rescue organizations. She did help one woman who wanted some PR for her rescue organization. A few months later the woman was furious that the picture of her pet was up on the site. Turned out the woman was upset because her dog had recently been hit by a car and died. Yvonne stayed open to the anger and discovered the problem, remedied it right away, and now the woman is a friend of hers. Staying level-headed helps. 

Margaret – serial blogs can drive lots of traffic – just like reading a great book. Discovering underlying reasons for objections helps.

Lena – do not get every objector in one room together. Have separate rooms and answer individual concerns. Create a checklist of what everyone wants, check that off, coach the objectors, and at the end you will have a sign-off list. Present copies to every single person in the meeting at the kick-off. Strategize on approach of the pitch as much as you do about the design and content of the blog. 

Karen – domino effect will help. 

Lena – do what you need to do to sell this idea. Whatever it takes. Best defense is a good offense. 

Yvonne – a new blog for Purina is about to launch. “Send me in writing what you are worried about.” 


Yvonne – she builds a lot of blogs for small businesses. If there’s no one who is going to be devoted to it on a regular basis, then blogging won’t work. If you’re fighting the company with the objections, then it may be better to just participate with comments on other sites.

Lena – you can be short on time or money, but not both. Lena’ company will coach, help, guide you, but they will not drag you kicking and screaming. 

Karen – start a site internally and see how well it goes. That is a good test.

Lena – won’t work with a company unless they are ready for success. 

Yvonne – here’s a question. “If you started a blog, would you get in trouble? And if so, why? And if you know why, then how could you remedy that?” Show them blogs that are out there. Look at comments, look at blogroll. Phrase it as “you’ve got to keep up. We can do this better than these other folks are doing it.”

Lena – draw up a huge proposal, in the hopes of getting even just a small piece of it. And it becomes the boss’s idea.  

Lena – shows company blog stats from companies. Yes focus on return is fair but drive home the point that what we invest is in direct relation to what we get in return. 

Yvonne – dozen Google alerts on Purina. People are out there talking about Purina, even if not on the company blog. Pet communities comment all the time and ask to link. It is seen as Yvonne’s blog, not necessarily Purina. Dr. Larry writes about pet ailments on the blog. 

Yvonne – feed burner, Google stats, etc. are used to monitor stats. And how many people comment by email. The more valuable part is how many relationships have been built as a result. 

Margaret – having another blog link back to yours is incredibly valued. 

Lena – it’s true that what doesn’t get measured gets forgotten. Figure out what metrics dictate success and how you are going to measure them. This is critical. Have goals in metrics, and an agreed method of what goes into measuring them. Focus on the basics. You can only focus on three things at any one time. A massive spreadsheet is too much. 

Yvonne – Purina occasionally asks about an incident that there is something going on and wants info.

Margaret – J&J’s .com site platform didn’t support blogging software. They went out to an open source platform and it does what we want. Didn’t go through IT. Communications function, not IT. 

Yvonne – use Typepad because it’s point and click. It’s fully-functionality and it is easy to use. Any design can be used for a website. The goal is to turn it all over to the client to manage it. 

Lena – product agnostic. Get the solution that is best for the company. Largely we use Wordpress. Allows other people to run it because open-source is portable and scalable. Open-source vs. home-grown can be a valid argument. Send out an RFP to a few companies, show how much it costs to have a homegrown application, and then show them what it costs for an open-source platform. They’ll change their tune.

Yvonne – blogs are small sound bites on the internet. The pieces need to be short. Journalistically, use proper English. Few acronyms. Personal voice that is written with the same professionalism as with magazines. You have to track-back, link to sources. Make sure you are 100% accurate. Fact checking is important. 

Karen – let the linking do the heavy lifting. Open link in a new window. We have some blogs with comments and some without. 

Lena – it’s called social media. It’s supposed to be social. If you’re wondering if there is any question on fair usage, make sure you give credit. If anything, over-credit your sources. You would want to be quoted, so quote others. You build a brand, and others to. Make sure to give them credit for that.     

Margaret – always attributes. 

Yvonne – Creative Commons is a great resource. 

Lena – software called Copyscape can help you monitor how your comment is being used in other places. 

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