Monday, September 16, 2013

Rettberg, Chapter 6

This chapter is called “Blogging Brands,” and discusses the business of blogging. I’ve always been interested in the business side of things, particularly of media, so I found this chapter particularly intriguing. Below are some of my thoughts and questions about the pieces that stood out the most to me.

“In just a few more years, the current homogenized “voice” of business-the sound of mission statements and brochures-will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court.” 

This comes from a book published in 1999, and as we draw closer to 2014, it couldn't ring more true. Today's businesses need to be more human, start a relationship with customers, and continue to build trust; people don't want to feel like they are just a number or just a sale, they need to feel special. Creating a human relationship as a business is the way to do that. I'm not sure whether it is due to society or to the accessibility of technology that has made people think they are special and deserved to be treated so, but either way, it is something that businesses need to be aware of. Even the advertisements of companies have become more human focused. In a Google search of ads in the 1980s (top), you can see mostly products being pictured, with big tag lines. However, in the image of the 2013 ads, there are mostly human faces with little else besides the brand name. Human voice of business indeed.

"Manolo the Shoeblogger? Sorry, not me. But it's very funny, isn't it? Hilarious!"

This is a quote from famed shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, displayed prominently on a blog that supposedly records his thoughts and quips. "Manolo the Shoeblogger" is clearly not trying to deceive people into thinking he is the real Monolo, and adding the quote adds credibility. When I read this in the chapter, my initial reaction was disgust and frustration that someone was pretending to be someone else, until I saw the quote and understood the satire. The fact that the real Monolo likes the blog made ME like it more.

"But, it turns out, my blog is really personal, I take it personally, and I need it to be that way."

This is what one blogger said after she ended her contract that paid her to blog and link to a certain site. Another added that even though it wasn't a diary-stlye blog, it was still "really personal." I can completely relate to this, especially since I made this blog for class and only post about things related to digital communications. However, it is still my reflections and therefore still personal, but mostly, writing is a form of communication that is unlike any other because you can rethink and edit what you've said, but the inflections can't be shown and you can rarely see the readers reaction. It is almost an extension of your person that you put into the world to be criticized. Long story short, blogging is a very personal form of communication.

"Blogs are a way for corporations to try to create a 'human voice,' as the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto would have said."

These corporation blogs set out to establish credibility and show expertise in the field, but also to create relationships with consumers. While I think this is a great idea for businesses, I often wonder how often they cross the line, particularly on social media. For example, when laptop maker ASUS tweeted this and received a lot of backlash.

With so many ways to be politically incorrect, are corporate bloggers more of a hassle for public relations? Especially since Rettberg talked about how bigger companies encourage their employees to blog about their professional experience. This is a BIG door to open, that has the potential to end very poorly. Why do bigger companies (who presumably have more to lose) relinquish so much control of much of the content that has their name on it? Rettberg discusses this somewhat when he talks about the need for transparency in corporate blogs, but I could also see other things going awry. An angry employee or a hacked account could be detrimental to the company's image.

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