This afternoon, I had a conversation with the PR person of a company to which I've consulted before. They're considering blogs and RSS feeds to improve communication with their clients. Part of the challenge for them, though, is that some of their content should be private to protect their competitive advantage. How does a company act transparently without giving away business? Moreover, is that really the right question?
As I build this site, I'm thinking through these questions. Corporate blogging is up and coming; it's a means for better communication externally - and internally too. Make no mistake - ultimately, blogs are marketing. If email newsletters were push marketing, are blogs to be regarded as pull marketing? Should a company have both? I believe that they should. Email newsletters don't have to be "spam."
I spent a few hours today working on beatcanvas, adding in Categories and Threads. I'd work for 20 minutes at a time, and then do something with the kids for a bit, and then come back to it. I actually like working this way. I get 20 minutes of thoughtful work, and then 20 or 30 minutes of time away. This allows me to back-burner some of the problems I could encounter before I continued.
Blog Categories aren't new. I know that TypePad offers them. Steve Rubel uses them well.
But I haven't seen anything in the way of Blog Threads.
A "thread" offers a trail of crumbs between posts. Where two posts in the same category might have nothing to do with each other, two posts in a thread should read like a continuing story.
There've been lots of times in reading the blogs of others that I wished for a thread. I wanted the background on the current post to put their current comments into context. It happens a lot with Glenn Reynolds and Jeff Jarvis. They tend to have "threads" that span months.
Next up on the agenda for me is the consideration of users registering and customizing their own page. I've set up the database for privatizing categories. ("My Kids" is my first private category, which will require a passcode to view it.)
I think corporate blogs must have privatization control. Companies strive for good PR and for secure transparency. Blogs can offer these, but the current tools on the market don't offer them. But they'll have to offer them. And companies will need to hire good story-tellers. Imagine product development threads, open to the public for ideas and input. It makes a company and its products "buzz-worthy." Which is smart business...