“Become part of the conversation by reading and sharing your comments with us”.
This is what HP says on the “Homepage” of HP blogs. One of the largest corporations in the world with thousands of employees and millions of customers wants to have a “conversation” with YOU. It’s the equivalent of the CEO from a large multinational company walking around the office inviting people to “chat” over a cup of coffee.
I know, there are other companies that blog as well. GM has a couple of blogs, Southwest Airlines has a blog. A large company with a blog is itself no big deal. But what’s interesting about HP is that it’s not just one blog. It’s a set of blogs (nineteen and counting) from a variety of HP employees who blog from very different perspectives and viewpoints. From technology, to marketing, to the Asian market—HP covers business and technology from multiple angles in addition to personal perspectives.
“The HP blogs are a very effective medium to engage in a conversation with our customers and partners, as well as show the different facets of HP from technology with HP labs to social responsibility, marketing or the sponsorship of the Sundance festival.”
-Eric Kintz, Vice President of Global Marketing Strategy & Excellence for HP
I’m not the first to write about the HP blogs. Diva Marketing did a really nice piece breaking this down as well. My perspective is a little more personal. Having worked on the agency side for HP in a past life, I have an idea about what the culture is like there. For all it’s product innovation—HP is in many ways a large, traditional company with lots of departments and time tested process. The culture also has “consensus mindset” deeply rooted in it which though effective, doesn’t always leave much room for risk taking. This is why I’m so intrigued by the individual blogs—some companies would perceive this kind of “opening up” as risky.
“We are still at an early stage of experimenting with blogs, understanding the risks and benefits of this openness and still have a lot of learning in front of us. But we have come to the realization that the conversation is happening today without us and that we should better participate. My recommendation for large companies is as a first step to start tracking what is said about them in the blogosphere. Once you have that kind of visibility, you soon realize that the only option is to start engaging in the dialogue”
Even though HP has control over approving comments, it’s still an open forum. And from what I can tell—the HP bloggers are not just using the blogs as an outlet for expressing thoughts and ideas, but they are authentically joining the discussion. Eric Kintz of the Marketing Excellence Blog is a prime example of this. Eric not only blogs on HP, but he also participates on the Marketing Profs blog as well. And by participates—I mean that literally. Eric takes time to write content which generates healthy discussion, but then he helps facilitate that discussion by remaining active in it.
In my estimation what Eric is doing is acting as an HP ambassador. He’s actually becoming an extension of the HP brand. And when HP says “At HP, we spend a lot of time connecting with our customers.” The blogs that they support actually play a significant part of DELIVERING on this statement. That’s a big deal. With the emerging “empowered consumer class”—people are more keen at spotting BS now more than ever. On the flipside, if you are walking the talk—the consumer is also empowered to reward you by becoming a vocal advocate for your brand.
HP is Blogging. Why aren’t you?
So where are all of the agency blogs? We claim to be nimble, independent thinkers loaded with diverse talent and expertise—so you'd think the market would be saturated with professional service blogs paving the way. Adaptive Path is a firm that prides itself on innovation and being ahead of the curve, yet only recently launched their blog in April (better late than never). Organic has been running an amazing blog for nearly two years—and it’s a REAL blog that accepts comments track backs etc. I still haven't seen a blog from Goodby Silvertein & Partners who have done some really nice marketing/brand initiatives for HP over the years—they might want to follow the lead of their client here.
On the homepage of Goodby's site, you will find this statement: “here the doors are always open”—but with only a static Website to represent the agency online, is this really accurate?
If a heavyweight company like HP can empower their employees to engage in open, authentic conversations with customers—WHY can’t we?