Some months ago I was at a going away party for a friend and bumped into David Gee, Hewlett Packard's Vice President of Marketing for their worldwide software division. David and I got to talking about blogging as a marketing tool and about the various corporate bloggers out there spreading the gospel for their respective companies. As David knew, I am a big advocate of blogging as a tool for communicating directly with your customers and he certainly appreciated the power of that direct communications channel. Within a few weeks of our conversation, David had a number of his key managers and technologists up and blogging.
A short time after the HP Blogs got up and running, David invited me to the HP campus to talk with a number of other marketing folks about the blogsphere. The conversation was an interesting one in which, among other things, I showed them all of the ways in which I track who is reading, linking to and commenting upon VentureBlog (e.g. Movable Type, FeedBurner, Bloglines, Technorati, etc.). We also spent some time talking about the things that I thought made company blogs either successful or not.
As I shared with the folks at HP, if there is one thing that I think is the hallmark of a successful corporate blog, it is the willingness of the corporate blogger to speaking candidly about the good and bad of his or her company and that corporation's commitment to allowing such a conversation without fear of repercussion. Needless to say, such candor is a scary thing for many corporations; but, without it, corporate blogging becomes nothing more than company slideware. I urged the folks at HP to take some risks and encourage their bloggers to speak their minds.
HP's bloggers are starting to do just that. In a recent post by Rich Marcello, HP's SVP of Business Critical Servers, Rich comments on the departure of Carly Fiorina. Rich praises Carly for her incredible leadership and communication skills. But he concludes, "What's true is that we made a great deal of progress toward realizing our strategy over the last several years; we also have more work to do that couldn't be executed without a leadership change." Interesting stuff to be reading from one of HP's Senior Vice Presidents. I hope that Rich and others over at Hewlett Packard will continue to speak openly about their business -- it is the only thing that will make the HP Blogs a must read for their customers and partners alike.