Saturday, December 17, 2005

Blogging as Organizational Communication, by Leigh Taginski

Context For This Post
“Why would you study blogging in an organizational communication class? What concepts from organizational communication give you any special insight into

On the surface, blogging looks like an activity for 13 year old girls and boys to discuss their recent crushes. However, in the context of organizational identification, employee empowerment, speaking truth to power and the power of language, studying blogging becomes a powerful tool for companies and employees as well. In an economy and society where everything seems to be standardized and codified, blogs are a breath of fresh air for organizational communication. No longer is the communication between customers and companies like pulling teeth. No longer is the CEO behind 3 doors of security on the top floor keeping his personality hidden behind fancy memos and generic emails. Blogs are giving customers and employees a voice and companies an ear.

However, with this new tool comes the possibility of problems as well. Employees are not always happy with their jobs and a blog to the world on bad practices could mean the end of their reputation. However, what if that company needed some light shone on what they were doing? Phil Tompkins would argue that speaking truth to power is an important action that employees need to be able to take and blogs could give them the outlet to do so. By pointing out the problems as well as the highlights, blogs offer companies and employees an opportunity to display honesty, increase credibility or perpetuate the problem based on how the situation is handled. A negative comment is not the end all or a reason not to blog; not being able to handle feedback may be however. Companies that are not ready to act on feedback have other communication problems that need to be addressed first.

Blogs are also important from an organizational communication standpoint as they help to measure the openness, credibility and overall SCOPE [supportiveness, credibility, openness, participatory decision making, and emphasis on high performance goals] of the organization. How a company handles company and personal blogging will show a lot about the communication climate they have. A company’s problem with blogs may help to highlight what communication areas may need some altering so that it can better display an ideal communication climate. Blogging is about communicating and when it is introduced as a tool for communicating in or about an organization it is important for both the blogger, the audience and the company to understand the impact the blog could potentially have on all parties involved. Jobs have been lost over blog content and company reputations have been smeared. These important implications prove that this tool is a serious medium that needs to be understood, and studied; but at the very least make people aware that it exists and what it can do.

Just as email is included in an organization communication class now, blogging needs to be studied as well. Blogs offer a space to enrich or hurt an organization’s communication climate and the impacts can no longer be ignored as the age of the blogosphere picks up speed.


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