Saturday Jan 07, 2006

10 Lessons from Blogging

I've been blogging for a couple of years now, and it has changed absolutely everything -- thanks to these guys. So I thought I'd jot down some things that I have learned or observed. Ten seems like a reasonable number for now, so this is what I have ...
  1. I blog for one reason -- it's fun. All the benefits grow from that one very personal experience.
  2. I pay little attention to the audience. I simply assume no one reads me. My audience is me.
  3. I've made many new friends via my blog, and I'm profoundly grateful.
  4. I've pissed off some people via my blog, and I'm very sorry.
  5. Negative comments -- the extreme personal attacks, I mean -- hurt deeply.
  6. Positive comments -- praise, constructive criticism, helpful information, connections -- are wonderful.
  7. Writing blogs requires absolutely no work whatsoever. It's stupidly simply on almost every level.
  8. Blog hit lists and credibility/authenticity rankings remind me of my PR days. They are meaningless popularity contests.
  9. Blogging has reminded me that I'm actually assertive and an entrepreneur at heart. I had forgotten. 
  10. BSC pervades everything I do at Sun and serves as the single most important personal empowerment tool I've ever experienced.
That's it.

Tuesday Jun 14, 2005

Solaris Blogs

I've been updating my community blogroll for a few weeks now. I use Bloglines, of course, but I've imported them right here into this blog, too. I'm finding these guys all over the place now. They range from Solaris kernel engineers at Sun ... to Solaris engineers from other parts of the operating system ... to Pilot Program developers ... to system administrators not involved with Sun or the pilot program ... to people at Sun who blog about Solaris occasionally. I'm noticing the number of people who are blogging on OpenSolaris specifically, though, is increasing most rapidly. Haven't you? We're at 280 or so now. You can also find these blogs on Planet Solaris and Planet Sun (Solaris). I'm still collecting ...

Monday May 23, 2005

Sun PR on Blogging

My buddy Noel talks PR and blogs -- Survival of the Publicists -- in Naked Conversations, a book by Shel Israel and Robert Scoble:

Noel Hartzell, at Sun Microsystems says cultures will determine which PR teams will evolve and which will not. “Our PR team is thinking about how to use technology and culture as a corporate weapon and blogging does both.” He said the Sun communications team sees itself as information gatherers, analyzers and counselors directed their energies toward a series of communities. “A bad way to do PR for them is to blast press releases every Thursday. We help feed the right information into the right channels. What could be better for a PR organization than blogs,” he said

Wednesday Apr 13, 2005

Solaris Blog Hunting

I'm hunting for more Solaris blogs. So far I've found 126 (note: the original post started with 85). Most of these names are Sun, but many are from the OpenSolaris Pilot Program and there are a few not involved with Sun in any way. I think I'm still missing some Sun Solaris blogs and a gallon of external Solaris blogs. If you have a blog and write about Solaris, let me know ... I'd love to link to you. Developers. Marketeers. Customers. System Administrators. Executives. Engineers. Managers. Users. Fans. Whoever. Let's talk. I'll be actively searching and updating this list ...

Solaris Blogs

$<blog | /dev/random | /var/crash/elowe | 42 | A GNU desktop mechanic | A Solaris Sustaining engineer's life | A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel | Adam Leventhal's  Weblog | Akira Ohsone's Weblog | Alan Coopersmith's Weblog | Alan DuBoff's Weblog | Alan Hargreaves' Weblog | The Alethiometer | Alexander Kolbasov's Weblog | Andrei' Blog | Andy Roach | Andy Tucker | Another Word for Nerd | Benoit Chaffanjon's Weblog | Blathering On | Big Hal's Blog | Bill Sommerfeld's Weblog | binarycrusader | The Blog of Ben Rockwood | Bob's Nook | Casper Dik's Weblog | chandanlog(3C) | Chris Morgan's Scribbling | Claire's Alternate Version of Reality | The Clingan Zone | Col's Weblog | Confessions of an OS junkie | The Daily Mink | Darren | Dennis Clarke with vi and coffee | The dot in ... | Dragan's blogs | 川の流れのように Eiji Ota's WeblogEmerging Systems | End-to-end and everything in between | Eric Boutilier | Eric Kustarz's Weblog | Eric Schrock's Weblog | Erwin Tenhumberg | Evolution of the Species | Exit 10 - Jim Mauro's Blog | Feathers, Rangers, and Ivory Towers | fintanr's weblog | Free Sky 自由的天空 | From the Mind of Wayne Abbott | Gavin Maltby's Sun Weblog | Glenn Brunette's Security Weblog | Glenn Weinberg's Weblog | Hal Stern: The Morning Snowman | Infinite Probability | It must be Time for Tea | Jaime Cardoso's Weblog | Japan: Takaaki Higuchi's Weblog | Jeff Bonwick's Weblog | Jerry Jelinek's Blog | Jignesh Shah's Weblog | Jim Grisanzio | Jimmy Andriambao | Joe Bonasera | John Beck's Weblog | John Gardner's Weblog | Jon Haslam | Jonathan Adams's Weblog | János Cserép's Weblog | Ken Gibson's Storage Networking Blog | Kristien's Weblog | Learning Solaris 10 | Let it rip | Liane Praza's Weblog | Marc Hamilton's Weblog | Marion | MaryMaryQuiteContrary | Matt Ingenthron's Stream of Consciousness | Matthew Ahrens' Weblog | Max Bruning's weblog | | Michael Walker's Weblog | milek's blog | mountaller diary | Muffett's Security Thinkage | The Observation Deck | ongoing | OS Technology | Phillip Wagstrom's Weblog | Planet Solaris | Predictable | The Rambling's Of Jon | Random Thoughts | Ready, Fire, Aim | Rich Teer's Blog | Richard McDougall's Weblog | RobustaOS | Rodrick's Web Log | Sarah's Adventures in Solaris | Schily's Blog | Sean's Blog | Simon Phipps, SunMink | Solaris 10 Notes on the OS | Solaris Babble! | SMG's Weblog | SRMBlog | Steven P. Bankowitz's Weblog | subrew | Blog | Super Support Girl Saves the Day Again | Surfing With a Linker Alien | tehmatix | theShepler | The Trouble with Tribbles | uncollected thoughts | Unix Admin Corner | | Valerie's Weblog | The view from the Engine Room | The View from the Moon | Virtual Dave | VMUNIX Blues | WebMink | Welcome to the Real World | Xolinc Weblogs | James C. McPherson | ...

So ... who am I missing?

Sunday Apr 10, 2005

Thanks to the Crew at BSC

Congrats to those guys who built BSC and won a Chairman's Award for it! And a personal thank you, too. You have no idea how much this tool has helped me this last year.

Friday Feb 11, 2005

The Sun Community of Blogs

James Governor was reading some blogs the other day and found one he felt we should take notice of:

Came across this blog a little while ago. Written by a Sun reseller -- a super evangelist for the company in Portugal. I really like Mr Cardoso's voice ... that kind of passion is something Sun needs to amplify and celebrate. One thing that worries me at times when I check out Sun blogrolls is they are often all Sun employees. Don't forget to open it out guys.

Well, James, that's a very good idea. I completely agree. And many of us here get the notion that there's a lot of passion and talent out there.

BSC is all Sun employees. And so is Planet Sun. But you can find a mixture of Sun and non-Sun employees blogging about Java at And over at Planet Solaris you can find Sun Solaris engineers and external community developers from the OpenSolaris Pilot Program blogging together. Their links are also at And you don't know who is internal to Sun and who is external to the community until you click on the link. We're building one community.

 David Edmondson created Planet Solaris. Here's what he said in his blog right around the time Planet Solaris was born:

After reading about the OpenSolaris bloggers in Jim Grisanzio’s blog, I started to subscribe to their feeds. After adding half a dozen it became obvious that other people would probably want to read the same set of feeds, so I created Planet Solaris. The intention is to gather weblogs from people who are working on or talking about Solaris whether they are employed by Sun or not. The current subscription list is split roughly 50:50 between staff and non-staff, which seems like a pretty good start.

So, if you write about Solaris in your blog and would like to be included in Planet Solaris, drop me an email.

So, calling all Solaris bloggers. Give us a shout!

Tuesday Feb 01, 2005

Steve Rubel's Rise of Business Blogging

PR maverick Steve Rubel has a nice piece here -- The Rise of Business Blogging. Good primer for getting started, too. I wish we had Steve doing PR here at Sun.

In his article, Steve talks a lot about how Microsoft is using blogs to turn around their image. Microsoft is a competitor of ours, so I can quibble with some of the points in the piece, but I largely agree that they've come a long way. Sun was also mentioned in the article, but only for Jonathan Schwartz as part of the growing list of CEO bloggers (Steve, Jonathan is President and COO. Scott's the CEO. I get your point, though.)

But Sun's blogger community is much more than just Jonathan -- and I believe that Jonathan would agree with that. There are about 1,000 Sun employee and community blogs at Blogs.Sun.Com & Planet Sun & Planet Solaris & At multiple levels throughout the company and out there among our developer communities, we're all talking away.

Tuesday Dec 28, 2004

Fortune: No Escaping Blogs

Robert Scoble points to Fortune's article on corporate blogging -- "Why There's No Escaping the Blog." It's a pretty long piece and pretty well done, too.

Some nice info on how Scoble's honesty is helping to improve Microsoft's reputation:

When it came to the criticism emanating from Boing Boing, Scoble simply ... agreed. "MSN Spaces isn't the blogging service for me," he wrote. Nobody at Microsoft asked Scoble to comment; he just did it on his own, adding that he would make sure that the team working on Spaces was aware of the complaints. And he kept revisiting the issue on his blog. As the anti-Microsoft crowd cried censorship, the nearly 4,000 blogs linking to Scoble were able to see his running commentary on how Microsoft was reacting. "I get comments on my blog saying, 'I didn't like Microsoft before, but at least they're listening to us,'" says Scoble. "The blog is the best relationship generator you've ever seen."

That last sentence in Scoble's quote is the kicker. I think Sun has come a long way to implementing that very thought with the blogs on BSC and the other Sun blogs not hosted on BSC but aggregated on Planet Sun. I talk to developers and system administrators for the OpenSolaris project, and they all say they are reading the Solaris engineering blogs. And more are commenting now, too. The conversation is, indeed, well under way. And I can easily point to the benefits in my own little job.

Here are a couple of Sun bits from the article:

The biggest chunk of the 5,000 or so corporate bloggers comes from Microsoft, but others work at, Intuit, and Sun Microsystems -- where even the company's acerbic No. 2, Jonathan Schwartz, gets in on the action. (A recent Schwartz post openly criticizes competitor Hewlett-Packard: "Yet another series of disappointing announcements.")


Even blogging boosters Microsoft and Sun have hit bumps. Microsoft fired a temp who posted photos of Apple computers sitting on a company loading dock. Sun CEO Scott McNealy was urged not to blog after he showed trial posts to company lawyers and colleagues. "I've got too many constituents that I have to pretend to be nice to," he says.

I still want to see Scott blog, don't you? :) My goodness ... can you imagine it? I asked him about it once when I saw him walking around MPK (Menlo Park campus). He just laughed. Loudly. :) Oh, well. So much for my influence, eh?

Blogs are bumping into all forms of communication:

Blogs are challenging the media and changing how people in advertising, marketing, and public relations do their jobs.


Blogs are just the latest tool that makes it harder for corporations and other institutions to control and dictate their message. An amateur media is springing up, and the smart are adapting. Says Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman Public Relations: "Now you've got to pitch the bloggers too. You can't just pitch to conventional media."

I can understand this position. I spent nine painful years pitching messages in PR. But I'm out now, and I have a different perspective. Why must everything be a pitch to deliver a message no one believes? And why pitch bloggers? Why perpetuate the bad PR that the PR industry so richly deserves? Why not simply read blogs to understand the issues and the communities trying to interact with a company. And why not simply blog right along with those communities and join the conversation? In other words, skip the pitch. Your message is now delivered through the medium of the conversation -- which tends to only support credible content. This article is just filled with stories of companies who joined the conversation and benefited and companies who didn't and got burned. There are some good stories about Kryptonite, Dan Rather, Mazda, and Six Apart. All worth reading. These stories, though, have to be especially terrifying for companies that are still missing this little phenomenon. Oh, well.

Thursday Oct 21, 2004

Scoble on Fear

Robert Scoble has some nice thoughts here in "Are You Afraid to Blog?" It's a long post, but well worth the read. Pretty scary, too, when you realize just how much the market has changed in such a short amount of time. My view is you can surf along with the change or you can drown when the wave crashes down on your head.

I often ask my non-blogger friends here at Sun why they don't blog. I mean, after all, the company has basically given us free access to the very latest online publishing technology with one stipulation -- be responsible and don't be an idiot. Many have jumped on the opportunity, and many have not. The mix is fascinating. And to some extent surprising. You can never predict these things, I suppose. It's not for everyone, though, and I realize that.

Unlike many companies I've worked at, Sun is a company of thinkers. From top to bottom. Everyone has an opinion around here. And everyone is all too willing to express his or her opinion, too. We debate strategy and tactics and engage with executives at many levels. In the Solaris platform organization, it's not uncommon to see the senior execs lurking the hallways talking with the engineers. Lot's of influence being exchanged there. Both ways. That's the key. It goes both ways. And it's not just engineering with influence. All the time I see relatively junior marketing and PR people briefing pretty damn senior executives or customers on various projects. It's pretty scary who I have been in meetings with in this company considering my experience. The message to my non-blogger friends is this: the very influence you have internally you can now extend externally to engage with whatever community you need to talk to -- customers, press, analysts, developers. Even competitors. This is an amazing opportunity. Sun benefits. The employee benefits. It goes both ways. Besides, it's fun. Give it a try.

Tuesday Oct 05, 2004

TV Show News Anchors Mad, Too

My goodness ... everyone's mad these days. And just when I'm starting to relax! What a switch.

So, now the big TV show news anchors are mad at bloggers for "a kind of political jihad." An unfortunate accusation considering the current global situation. Rhetoric like this seems profoundly silly, yet desperate. Sorry, guys. I have no sympathy. You lost your credibility long before the Dan Rather chronicles of a couple of weeks ago, although it was amusing. I must admit, though, I don't really watch the network news shows anymore. Haven't for a very long time. Too much hype and spin. Gives me a headache, and I have enough pain to deal with in my life. It's much quieter and thoughtful over here. So, perhaps I'm the one who is not credible on this subject. Anyway, thanks, Steve, for the pointer.

Thursday Sep 30, 2004

Just a "lowly" Sun blogger ...

093004_business2_lowly Business 2.0 has an article on Schwartz and Sun's bloggers:

The blogging COO is not alone, even at his own company. Sun's chief technology officer, James Gosling, runs his own blog too. So do the company's top marketing manager, chief technology evangelist, and hundreds of other lowly Sun employees.

This is the first time I've ever been called "lowly." Not very flattering, eh?

Wednesday Sep 22, 2004

Schwartz and MaryMary in Fortune

Well, you gotta love this, eh? Schwartz and MaryMary hit Fortune Magazine today. Together! Quite a statement for the success of blogs generally and BSC specifically. I love it.

From the article:

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.

The company's 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. Says Schwartz: "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, 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."

I have no clue were Fortune gets the "only about 100 are doing it so far" line because I know we are well over 700 and will be at 1,000 shortly. With Schwartz and MaryMary and others leading the way, I think we'll eclipse Microsoft, tech's top blogging company, before the end of the year. All we need now is Scott.

Sunday Sep 19, 2004

Scoble's new policy on PR, press, blogs

Seems Microsoft's top blogger, Robert Scoble, has a new PR policy. Thanks, Steve, for the link.

I like the policy. I think it would work well for someone like me if I'm ever in the position of having to talk to the press. You see, I'm not big on talking to the press in the first place. I'm not sold on the value, to be honest. Along with the press comes formal interviews staffed by PR people with the idea of delivering "three key messages" to someone who doesn't want to hear them and will (rightly) not print them. Then there's the pain afterwards of reviewing the "message pull through" from the "coverage" you "generated" or "secured" and the inevitable executive raised eyebrows when the messages didn't "resonate." The result? The press is not happy because you are shoving messages at them, the spokesperson is not happy because you are constricting the conversation, and the executive is not happy because the reporter is not printing the company's story. Yuk.

Ok, that's a bit extreme, but I'm not too far off. Having spent entirely too many years in PR, it's nice to be on the outside with absolutely zero desire to be a "spokesperson." It will never happen. I don't have the disposition to deal with the press that way, just like I didn't have it in PR to manage the press from that perspective. There's simply nothing of value in PR-press-spokesperson system for me to get excited about. However, I love blogging having conversations and interactions at conferences. I want to do more of those activities. Talking to customers and developers about Sun and OpenSolaris and the market dynamics surrounding them both is great fun. And listening to ideas about how I can better engage is always welcome and educational.

Scoble's new policy recognizes both sides of the equation -- he's going to blog and talk at conferences publically, and the press can certainly quote all that. But if you want an exclusive, formal interview you have to call PR for vetting and logistical support. Works for me. I'll just skip the second half.

Sunday Aug 15, 2004

Blogs: The Marketing Killer?

I love this piece on by Michael Singer: "Blogs: The Marketing Killer." Not for what it says, but for what it doesn't say.

Singer poses the question:

"Do companies need a full-blown marketing or PR department when the employees themselves and the conversations they have on these blogs are getting the corporate info out more effectively?"

The question is extreme, but I agree with the underlying premise that blogs are disruptive to traditional marketing and PR departments. But those guys are smart, and they'll figure out a way to leverage the phenomenon. Sooner or later, anyway. Many have been for some time now, like Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion, who blogs prolifically about PR, and his ranks are growing.

PR and marketing people who ignore all this are going to have a rough time because they are too tightly tied to the so-called "message." Quoted in the article is Lisa Poulson, a consultant with Kirtland Enterprise Group:

"PR firms love to control the message, control who says the message, control who has access to the message, who says the message and the timing of the message," she said. "Blogs upset the apple cart in all four ways. But building that credibility and trust are still the basis for that individual relationship."

Totally agree, although I'm not sure what she means by that last sentence. I suspect her quote was clipped because it doesn't really flow logically.

This bit from the article baffles me, though:

Matthew Bailey, Web marketing director with the Karcher Group, suggests that corporate public relations and alternative news and opinion outlets are the two industries most impacted by blogs and RSS feeds.

Ok. I get it that PR is affected by blogs. But what's this reference to "alternative news and opinion outlets" also being affected? Aren't the alternative news and opinion outlets being fully expressed by blogs? How are they impacted by blogs? Confusing.

So, I keep reading, looking for the one community that blogs absolutely affect, a community that is wrestling with it quite publically, as well. Jay Rosen and Dan Gillmor -- and dozens and dozens more -- talk about it all the time ... the fact that blogs are affecting mainstream journalism itself. But no mention of that in this article. Not even a hint. Instead we are treated to a violent, hysterical headline, "Blogs: The Marketing Killer." True, the majority of PR and marketing people may be in denial about blogs, but it seems to me that the industry under siege here is journalism! I've read some pretty defensive quotes in the media directly attacking bloggers -- quotes from old world reporters, though, not PR and marketing people.

Fascinating omission. The rhetorical skills of reporters never cease to amazing me. That's a compliment, by the way, not a criticism. I love the study of classical rhetoric. I just think that journalists are some of the very best rhetoricians out there, that's all.

Ok, just a quick point of clarification on the article in regards to open source Solaris. Singer writes about Sun's recent use of blogs:

"In one case, Sun's roadmap to open-sourcing its Solaris operating system was discussed in its blogs well before executives acknowledged the strategy."

I'm not sure where that came from, to be honest, and I hope I didn't miss anything. But as I remember, went live just before SunNetwork Shanghai in early June. The issue of open source Solaris, however, had been discussed well before the famous Jonathan Schwartz leak in the press conference in Shanghai. Here are some articles from Schwartz and Rob Gingell dating back to 2002:
Singer is quite correct, however, when he says:

"But the boldest move so far to capitalize on the blogging craze has been by Sun Microsystems. The company allows not only its engineers but also its general employee base to post their musings."

I'm one of those living in the "general employee base," and I do think this is a bold move for Sun. It's a move that is quite welcome, though. A move that is working out pretty well, I'd say.

Monday Jul 26, 2004

Blogging Boston

Congratulations to all the bloggers who earned press credentials to cover the Democratic National Convention in Boston. I'm so excited for these guys. The New York Times talks to a few of them here. You gotta love the opportunity blogs have provided people. I mean, Jeralyn Merritt, criminal defense lawyer in Denver, now has access to the bowels of the Democratic National Convention? Wonderful! And Stephen Yellin in Berkeley Heights, N.J? Where's that? Who's he? He's 16! Now that's opportunity.

Merritt told the Times after getting her credentials:

"It was someone who was judging me on the work that I was doing for free over the last two years and found me worthy."

Guess it wasn't for free after all, eh? Having a passion pays off.

I think many in the media get it and are adapting, even leveraging, the new medium. That's great. But it's always fun watching those still fighting from the other side of a dying paradigm. I love this quote in the article from a journalism professor:

"I think that bloggers have put the issue of professionalism under attack," said Thomas McPhail, professor of media studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, who argues that journalists should be professionally credentialed. "They have no pretense to objectivity. They don't cover both sides."

Both sides? Objectivity? How silly. Tom, I have to say ... THAT'S THE POINT! At least for me, I don't care if a blogger covers only conservative issues or only liberal issues or any of the several hundred points of view in between. At least I know where bloggers stand within 10 seconds of reading their stuff. They are smart enough to have absolutely no pretense of objectivity, which is a dopy notion, anyway, one that only the elite media talk about yet no one believes. I've never met a single objective person in my life. Not one. Not even a journalist. And I've worked with several hundred of them from all over the world for a decade. Journalists are human, just like the rest of us, Tom. You are not special.

Saturday Jul 24, 2004

Microsoft Bloggers

Interesting piece on Microsoft's bloggers here. There are 800 of 'em. My goodness. MS took to blogging pretty well, I'd say. I found the article on Steve Rubel's Micro Persuasion. Steve is busy turning PR people into bloggers and teaching them how to enable conversations. Good deal, Steve.

On the MS bit, what I like about this article is this sequence right here:

Consider one recent post, for example, in which Anderson admits, "We are still debating internally if we think that a memory gate approach will produce a reliable enough platform for the core of Windows.

"There is some concern that the statistical nature of memory gates...will produce a system that will fall over too easily when running in stress conditions."

Think Microsoft's corporate communications department would have handled that differently? You can bet your life it would have. But that's where Parthasarathy comes in. He has the clout to overrule those who would put a spin on messages he believes are vital to get out. And he appreciates what a little candor and frankness can do for the company.

Wow. Honesty. From Microsoft. I hope that's what developers are seeing from I'm certainly seeing more and more credible content and conversation migrating to the site.

But Sanjay Parthasarathy, Microsoft's VP of developer evangelism, seems to be dealing with the same issues we all are -- how do you have critical and honest conversations with an external community without getting corporate communications, marketing, and legal all worked up, while at the same time recognizing that these people have legitimate concerns and should be involved in the process? If you read Steve's Micro Persuasion, he's advocating that PR people get involved in blogging so they are a part of that process. And, quite frankly, so they don't get left behind, too. I agree.

Monday Jun 28, 2004

JavaOne: Schwartz to Blog

According to the NY Times, Jonathan's going to blog .... now this is getting interesting, eh? "Mr. Schwartz will also announce that he plans to begin writing his own Web log on a regular basis. Several Sun employees maintain online dairies, known as blogs, at both official and unofficial Web sites. Mr. Schwartz said he was interested in reaching a computer industry audience directly, unfiltered by reporters."

Monday May 24, 2004


authentic voice Simon has been talking about "authentic voice" in a massively connected society. Take a look ... the examples he cites are powerful and recent. They demonstrate that it just doesn't pay to pretend because you're going to get caught. Even if you don't get caught, lack of authenticity creates a big burden -- worry!

We are clearly entering a new paradigm of communications, with blogs and all sorts of emerging social software applications. It's a messy paradigm, for sure, but one that empowers the individual to communicate in an authentic voice. I like it. It's scary, but I like it nonetheless. Hell, even Bill Gates is talking blogs now, so it must be ok, right?

For me, this is quite a relief and provides an interesting avenue for growth. I've done six years in corporate PR and three years in university PR. The two experiences were polar opposites. I used to do PR at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton, Massachusetts. Back then, the "PR" department at Tufts University was staffed by former journalists, not PR people. We viewed our jobs as internal reporters ... we dug out the coolest stories on campus and then called the press and sold the stories that sold themselves. We ignored the others. Granted, we were fortunate to have a high quality, scientifically- and medically-oriented university to tap for stories, but the analogy still holds, I believe.

We did not have message platforms. We did not "media train" our spokespeople. We did not have Q&As. We did not pitch stories that were self-serving. What we did do, however, was exactly opposite. We did a version of Cluetrain before we knew what Cluetran was. We trusted our spokespeople (doctors, veterinarians, biologists, students, professors, dentists, nutritionists, clients etc), and we encouraged them to simply tell their stories in their own voices. We encouraged the diversity of voices. There was no being "on message." When reporters experienced this authenticity, they let their guard down (most of them, anyway), and a genuine professional relationship formed. That's pretty much it. The result? Lots of really interesting stories with juicy quotes from funky researchers doing fascinating things throughout the university. Every day I talked to top tier print and broadcast media from around the world, and I did it rather freely. I was never afraid of a leak. It never crossed my mind, actually. We had to be protective on occasion due to obviously sensitive issues, but that was the exception, not the rule. It worked out pretty well, I'd say.

From that experience, I jumped into six years of corporate PR at three different companies. I was totally unprepared. Everything was different. Everything was opposite. All conversation stopped and it stopped immediately. I repeatedly got into trouble for trying to do what I did at Tufts. I just didn't fit. Eventually, I gave up. I realized that I simply didn't have the skills to articulate a corporate voice.

I'm not saying life at Tufts and that model was perfect. Far from it. I almost got fired a few times for doing this, and we constantly fought with the very nervous university administration to convince them that this was the way to go. And I have some wild media stories from that experience that my corporate PR friends find utterly outrageous. But if I had to do PR again, I prefer the "conversation model" we implemented at Tufts. Authenticity works. It disarms. It connects. It trusts. I realize that this is a difficult lesson for executives in public companies who are under constant -- and unreasonable -- pressure from Wall Street, but there must be room to integrate the concept of "conversation" into the corporate paradigm. The market is demanding it. It will be interesting to see how corporate PR and marketing departments adjust. Embrace it ... and grow. Ignore it ... and die.

Friday Apr 30, 2004

The Value of Blogs

I'm new to blogging ... only been doing it for a couple of months. I have four of these things now: one personal, two internal to Sun for various projects we are working on, and this one on

The real value to me from all this is that it provides a faster way of learning the details of a subject. I'm not so much interested in feeds from news organizations; what I'm really interested in is the personal context of individuals actually involved in the stories -- the stuff that gets cut out. Sure the immediacy of a news organization feed is great, but it's still filtered through reporters and editors who are under pressure from so many sources and deadlines that it's hard to tell what's real. To me, it's just one point of view. A valuable one, for sure, but only one. By reading good blogs, however, I tend to learn a great deal and that's what I'm after.

Both are necessary, though: I get my macro issues from news organizations; I get my micro issues from bloggers dug deep in the trenches actually creating the news. Nice combination.


I'm happy to be part of Congrats to Will & Co. for getting it up and running. And thank you, too. Should be great fun talking about what's going on in technology and listening to the various voices of Sun emerge. Sun is an extremely diverse and passionate company to work at. The place absolutely fascinates me.


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