"We've had an interesting couple of weeks as a company, that's for sure. But none of that has made a bit of difference down here on the ground. The focus at Commercial Airplanes is, as always, on our customers and on the future."
With these innocuous words, Randy Baseler, vice-president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airlines, supposedly addressed the blogosphere about the marital indiscretions that had brought his boss down and were blasted across the country as headline news.
Baseler's blog, Randy's Journal, is supposed to provide an insider's view of Boeing. If so, he blew it on that blog entry, but perhaps raised the issue of who should really be authoring a company blog.
There are several ways to go. A blog written at the top has the potential of providing news straight from the decision makers. It can also communicate the vision of the organization, much like Richard Edelman's blog.
The downside is that CEOs and senior executives are also wary of stockholders' perceptions and don't provide the bare honesty expected of a decent blog.
A blog written by those at the lower rungs of the organization also has its perils. As evidenced by recent events at Apple Computer, those in the rank and file may feel imbued with a new sense of power and want to either "tell it like it really is" or, even worse, reveal company secrets.
But such risks can be avoided if staffers blogging on company time have clear guidelines and rules. What's more, it's a tremendous boost to the company culture to give the regular staffer a voice.
Of course, there's the happy medium. Mid-level managers are conscientious about their loyalty and generally stay on message. They won't make good bloggers, however, if they're accustomed to submitting their work through layers of approvals. A mid-level manager told to "blog away... but with caution" would understandably suffer some amount of paralysis.