Thu, 13 December 2007, 5:47 pm
Matthew Grant over at Aquent offers an introspective look at the voice he uses while blogging on behalf of his firm.
What are the characteristics of the “corporate voice”? It is essentially educated, relatively formal (no cursing/minimal slang), and thoughtfully diplomatic. More significantly, the topics it discusses are “safe.” Aside from being relevant to the business of the corporation itself, in my case, “marketing staffing,” it shies away from topics that could potentially offend any of my more or less anonymous, more or less accidental readers. That means: no direct discussion of political or religious issues (to the extent that the two can be separated in the United States), no commentary on the actions of our current or potential clients, and, naturally, no criticism of the staffing industry or particular staffing firms.
This gray area of corporate transparency that distinguishes an individual blogger’s views, style and approach from the corporation’s (especially a public one) seems to be getting in the way of his voice. Matt goes on to mention:
But what if using the “corporate voice” was not in the best interest of this blog? What if the blog would be more popular if I spoke in a voice closer, if not equivalent, to my own?
This is a really timely topic for me as I think about the tone and structure of the Hudson voice in the blogoshere. The point of blogging for a corporation (as opposed to the more formal marketing website) is to bring your own voice to the matter. I doubt anyone is going to hang out very long at a blog if it lacks the author’s true voice. I’ve always read Matt’s content as authoritative, if perhaps only a little dry. Sure, it reflects very well on the Aquent brand as does the design of their website, and the other authoritative video content they put out there. Aquent comes across as knowing their stuff in marketing for sure! I think perhaps the only mistake Matt is making is that he’s the ONLY voice. Tim Donelly’s But Less About Me, a blog written more in his own voice, functions very separately from Matt’s. I have no clue who is getting more traffic, but I’d bet Tim is. The corporate voice of Aquent is the sum of the talent they’ve chosen to retain. Why not bring the two closer visually and architecturally so that both blogs serve to support the corporation. And why not invite more Aquenters into the mix?
Another interesting staffing voice is the Manpower Blawg. I have no doubt that Mark Toth is using a voice other than the corporate one of Manpower. It seems to be a bit off kilter to me from a corporate branding perspective, yet at the same time his blog is a very targeted and engaging read. Surely not everyone at Manpower is an employment law expert, yet the fact that a high ranking employee of the company is using his voice does say something about the company and its corporate culture. Similar to Matt at Aquent, I do think that more voices from Manpower need to join the conversation for it to become a meaningful corporate communications vehicle.