I think I’m finally beginning to understand the fear that some organizations grapple with when it comes to blogging. First of all, the nature of blogging itself goes against the grain of any institutional setting. My first job was in a multi-national scientific firm – they expected their staff to project a ‘corporate standard’, from what we said when meeting with clients to the way we dressed – it was all about image! So the idea of an employee writing an article from their perspective, that may or may not reflect the views of the organization must be scary.

Last week, I attended a very interesting session on blogging. This was organized by the FAO knowledge exchange group and facilitated by Gauri Salokhe and Romolo Tassone, this session was aimed at starting discussion at FAO on blogs and their potential to support the work they do. To illustrate the point, several bloggers were invited to discuss how blogs were helping their organizations. The list included Maria Garruccio  of Bioversity International who maintains the library blog, Roxanna Samii of IFAD who has both a personal and official blog, Michael Riggs of FAO who has a personal blog and yours truly, who blogs for the ICT-KM blog site along with at least 5 other colleagues.

For an organization like FAO, this might have looked like collective ambush. But if the staff who attended were keeping an open mind, they would have noticed that the bloggers were responsible, mature individuals who recognized the value of their organizations. The bloggers with personal blogs made a clear distinction between what was private and institutional. They were careful not to represent the voice of the organization.

Roxanna Samii echoed the sentiment of using common sense when dealing with content that may be deemed sensitive. 

For the institutional blogs, Maria, Roxanna and I felt results speak for themselves. The attention the blogs have received show that as a communication medium, institutional blogs are making waves. The ability to measure this impact with statistics (a feature of many blog sites e.g. WordPress) lends credibility. These blogs resonated with people and feedback was encouraging.

The blog content featured may be updates to an event/ activity, but not limited. Maria has been promoting the library and new collections that arrive.  Michael has been using his personal blogs as an avenue for his interests in knowledge management and new technology. I am using the ICT-KM blog site to introduce newcomers to social media – from a non-technical point of view. In short, our blogs have purpose and if they connect with others, it is because of the shared interest.

Used responsibly, blogs become a meeting point for people with similar interests to learn and engage, besides being a great marketing tool for an organization to promote their work. Incidently, here’s an interesting post I read yesterday on why your non-profit organization needs a blog which may help tip the scales for blogging.

Of course, there are challenges aplenty – most apparent TIME. But it was pointed out that time as a constraint does not exist if you are passionate about the topic. Blogging is just another way to get your message across and should not be looked at as an additional burden to your existing workload.

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(photo credit: Microsoft clipart)

The greatest challenge though is the mindset. Whether you’re a part of a large organization like FAO or a small ten-people company, the organizational culture is determined by it. And that is hard to change, though not impossible. Trust plays a big role – Meena says in all naivete. The knowledge exchange team advocating blogs for FAO are embarking on a huge effort, but they’re off to a great start in showing their staff success stories. The proof is in the pudding!   

Till next time…

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