Oracle OpenWorld invitation to bloggers: fail

Following on from last year, Oracle has a blogger track for its OpenWorld event. Jake Kuramoto has the details:Most of the operational details are the same as last year:Oracle provides the conference pass to qualified bloggers.
Written by Dennis Howlett, Contributor

Following on from last year, Oracle has a blogger track for its OpenWorld event. Jake Kuramoto has the details:

Most of the operational details are the same as last year:

  • Oracle provides the conference pass to qualified bloggers.
  • Oracle does not cover travel or other expenses related to attending OpenWorld, just the pass.
  • To qualify, your blog should be about Oracle, enterprise software, Enterprise 2.0.
  • To qualify, your blog should not be brand-spanking new.
  • The OpenWorld team reviews each registration submission and approves at their discretion.
  • I have no authority over who is approved or what Oracle covers monetarily.

This year there are a few differences:

  • There is a blogger credential this year, no more registering as Press.
  • There will be more cohesive program assembled for bloggers.
  • There may be other differences that I’ll blog as we develop the program.

While I applaud Oracle's attempt at bringing itself up to speed with other enterprise applications' vendors, it is going about this in the wrong way. The positives:

  • Inviting bloggers and providing a free pass is a good thing.
  • Noting that the blog should not be new makes a lot of sense.
  • Developing a program for bloggers provides focus.

Now to the negatives:

  • Simply throwing open the doors but then making acceptance subject to approval but providing no clue as to the selection criteria is not transparent. This is bound to annoy at least some.
  • The 'open door' policy fails to recognize the relative influence of some bloggers over others. We are not a homogenous group and acting as though we are is a sure sign of not understanding the way the blogger world works.
  • The requirements are poorly defined. For example, there are problems around the definition of Enterprise 2.0. I would argue that Oracle's definition as articulated through products is outside that offered by Andrew McAfee.
  • By not covering expenses, Oracle is guaranteeing to exclude a significant number of bloggers but then given the 'open door' policy, that isn't surprising. But then it covers the expenses of at least some overseas media who attend Oracle OpenWorld.
  • The biggest failure is in not understanding that many bloggers are considered a legitimate part of the wider media. (What is this if it isn't media?) This leads to the conclusion that Oracle is attempting to reinforce its command and control attitude to media. In a Twitter enhanced world, that will fail and increase the likelihood of hostility by the very people to whom Oracle should be reaching out.

Conversations I've had with certain Oracle people indicate there is a a level of dismay among those who do understand what enterprise blogger relations is about. Sadly, they're unlikely to put their heads above the public parapet and I have no intentions of 'outing' them because it could put their jobs at risk. One I know has recently left after many years at Oracle, citing a desire to work with companies who do understand the changing nature of media. In this brave new world where transparency is on the ascendence, changing cultural DNA is one of the hardest things to manage inside organizations of any kind. It requires a willingness to take risk with which many feel uncomfortable. However, in framing the program in this way, Oracle is looking worse, not better. That will be Oracle's loss.

Disclosure: Oracle has requested that I provide a keynote to their marketers on blogger relations. I will be presenting next Tuesday.  The title: Engage or Die.

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