I’m glad somebody – Jeremy Wagstaff in this case – finally said this:
Here’s an interesting statistic, in the light of Scoble’s departure from Microsoft (no direct connection, I promise, but it does raise issues about whether corporates really like blogging): 7.1% of companies have fired an employee for violating blog or message board policies.
If Robert Scoble wasn’t already well known I doubt that Microsoft would have tolerated him. Bloggers are anathema to companies than want to control their message rigidly. I expect that they weren’t too happy about someone saying exactly what they thought, ever if it "put a more human face" on Microsoft.
Personally I’ve never worked with a company that would pay for me to travel wherever I wanted to. They have travel budgets after all. Rick Segal had a great post on how companies can encourage bloggers, but as I commented on his post, the VC in him would likely still want costs controlled unless it was generating revenue. Did Scoble generate an increase in revenue at Microsoft? Perhaps enough to pay for his costs, but not likely a substantial increase.
Certainly people would comment on the huge increase in positive marketing bloggers bring. Yet I would argue that he increased his personal brand a lot more than that of Microsoft’s, at Microsoft’s expense. Tara Hunt is another example, having increased her personal brand much more that the Riya brand, with some suggesting that this ended with her being fired.
So is they aren’t really having much revenue or marketing impact for a company, why would a company be interested in the risk of having employees blog? Certainly there seem to be very few corporate bloggers left. Jonathan Schwartz doesn’t count; he’s the CEO/President and can pretty much do what he wants, but will also be corporately cautious about the message he sends. Niall Kennedy was well known before he went to Microsoft, so he can’t really be considered a corporate blogger, but instead just happens to be a blogger who works at Microsoft.
I’m certainly happy to be proven wrong, but I believe that companies really don’t want employees to blog, no matter what they claim about their desire for openness. The desire for control is just too great. And in their eyes the perceived benefits probably don’t seem to justify the risks.
Robert may have opened up a window into Microsoft for a lot of people, providing information that they otherwise couldn’t get. And Microsoft let him. But the sad thing is that it shouldn’t have taken a blogger to provide information the company should have already been making freely available, but chose not to.
In Robert’s case blogging merely corrected a problem of poor information flow. Will that flow of information now stop?