While some big companies have already taken a step into the public blogosphere with executive blogs, Intel isn't one. At least, not yet. But they do have an internal executive blog, introduced in December.
The San Jose Mercury News reported yesterday that Intel's President and COO, Paul Otellini (who becomes CEO in May), began an internal blog on 14 December with commentary on developments at what he called "the next version of Intel."
Intended wholly for internal use as a communication channel with the company's employees, Otellini's first post says:
Why am I doing this? Well, it seemed like a good idea to be able to create an ongoing vehicle to share my thoughts and observations on Intel and our industry with our employees, and to allow you an opportunity to have a platform for your thoughts or responses. While this is intended as an internal blog, I recognize that it will become public-welcome to the Internet! As a result, please recognize that I may be a bit limited in my comments and responses to protect Intel, and that we may exercise some editorial privilege on your comments for the same reason. I want to be clear on this up front. This is the price of entry to this blog.
That first post drew comments from employees saying things like "This is awesome... looking forward to hear more directly from Paul", "Your blog is a great idea - I look forward to future updates" and "The blog idea is great. I'm with Andy - stick with this!"
In his second post, Otellini acknowledges employee reactions:
First of all, let me say that I was blown away by the response to the Blog. We received over 350 comments in the first 24 hours, with more coming in every day. I did not read them all, but read many of them.
Later posts through January reflect an effective balance - responsiveness to comments on each post (and there are plenty) and pressing on with discussing topics that are in Otellini's agenda.
Many other companies are doing similar things - quietly introducing internal blogs, news about which doesn't readily see the light of public day until a newspaper or blogger gets wind of it and then reports on it.
The Mercury's report does contain one warning sign for communicators.
It quotes a gentleman called Greg Evans, who the paper says advises companies on blogging, saying that "executives should always make clear the rules for corporate blogs." There's no question about that - establishing clear policies at the outset are an essential part of balanced risk management, both for the employer and the employee, whatever level you are in the organization.
But that's not the warning sign. Here's that sign - Mr Evans is a lawyer, not a communication professional.
Blogs will soon begin to be pervasive in the workplace - see my hot prediction for 2005 - and if communicators don't quickly get with the programme, there are plenty of others who will.
Edit: I omitted to credit where I found some details of Otillini's blog content. Hat tip to B2Day, the Business 2.0 blog, that has a link to a PDF on the San Jose Mercury News website.