Markets are conversations. So explains the famous Cluetrain Manifesto which continues:
…learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.
A corporate blog, if done properly, can bring back the kind of real human voice that companies have forgotten about over the last generation. If a CEO can blog casually and uninhibitedly (as Jeffrey Hollender does so well for Seventh Generation), or if employees are empowered and encouraged to participate as themselves in blogging and discussions (as the Zappos team does so well) then the result will likely be more honest, more productive dialogue between all stakeholders.
Generally, the larger the company the more inertia, so I’m impressed to see FedEx has a corporate blog. I’m even more impressed at the quality of voice and the variety of subjects and authors featured.
Hosted by what appears to be Ketchum PR (who obviously put a lot or work and thought into it), FedEx’s Citizenship Blog is a group blog written by at least a few dozen FedEx employees at various places within the organization. Although the content of the blog is not especially hard hitting, there is obviously a high level of readership and interaction among readers, many of whom seem to be FedEx employees.
Take, for example, this post about FedEx’s decision not to advertise in this year’s superbowl. Over 100 comments about the issue imply a living community of employees and customers.
At first glance, I can’t tell how moderated the comments are nor how strict topic choice is policed – it’s pretty obvious that this is done at least to some extent. But for a company as large and complex as FedEx, they certainly seem to have jumped out of the gates with a very good start toward a more open and transparent culture – a critical piece of any path to sustainability.
Yes, it’ll be a while before FedEx employees are doing this (should they be?), but as always, baby steps.