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Fortune Magazine: Business embraces blogs

Fortune Magazine has an article entitled ‘It’s Hard to Manage if You Don’t Blog‘ in its October 4 issue about businesses embracing blogs as executives both read and write blogs.

Of particular note were blogs at Sun Microsystems and Microsoft. Other companies with blogs included Yahoo, Google, Intuit, and even Maytag. Sure, most of these are high tech companies but law firms dealing with sophisticated business clients have much they can learn from these business blog leaders.

Jonathan Schwartz, president and COO of Sun Microsystems is the highest-ranking executive yet to embrace blogs, which Fortune says are burgeoning globally. About 35,000 people read his blog in a typical month, including customers, employees, and competitors. Schwartz encourages all Sun’s 32,000 employees to blog, though only about 100 are doing it so far. But they include at least three senior managers other than Schwartz as well as development engineers and marketers.

Fortune reports Suns most popular blogger is a marketer known as MaryMaryQuiteContrary. Her blog ranges from rhapsodies about “proxy-based aspect-oriented programming” to musings about her desire to become a first-grade class mother.

Schwartz told Fortune: “I don’t have the advertising budget to get our message to, for instance, Java developers working on handset applications for the medical industry. But one of our developers (MaryMaryQuiteContrary), just by taking time to write a blog, can do a great job getting our message out to a fanatic readership.” He adds, “Blogs are no more mandated at Sun than e-mail. But I have a hard time seeing how a manager can be effective without both.”

Over at Microsoft, some 1,000 employees blog, a spokesman told Fortune, though no top executives do. Robert Scoble, Microsoft’s most prominent blogger, discussed the importance of blogs. “I often link to bloggers who are not friendly to Microsoft. They know I’m listening, and that alone improves relationships.”

Sun mentioned it does have blogging safeguards. David Farrell, Sun’s chief compliance officer, said the company will soon require employees to agree to specific guidelines before starting blogs. Certainly trade secrets and overly sensitive subjects will be off limits.

in addition to writing blogs, Fortune reported some managers find reading them even more important. The article mentions during a recent conference for Microsoft software developers, top company executives read up-to-the-minute blogs written by the audience to get a sense of how their messages were being received.

What can lawyers learn from business about blogs?

  • Blogs allow law firms to communicate with clients, employees and the public
  • Blogs allow law firms to market to segments the firm’s marketing budget would never allow for
  • Blogs improve relationships with both current and prospective clients
  • Blogs allow for effective safeguards to protect confidential information

A few months ago, I tried to share with you all the articles in leading business magazines about blogs. There are so many articles about blogs these days, it just isn’t possible. But I’ll do my best to share some of the better ones like this one from Fortune.

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