Who should be the corporate blogger?

Whether it's the company CEO or a freelance writer, the corporate blogger should have personality, is able to write both fast and eloquently, says author of blogging guidebook.

SINGAPORE--Companies that look to establish a business blog can look both inward and outward when it comes to selecting bloggers, according to the author of a blogging guide.

Susannah Gardner, author of Buzz Marketing with Blogs for Dummies, said companies can consider employees at different levels of hierarchy, or even freelance writers, to front corporate blogs.

Most important, the blogger should have an engaging personality, a good grasp of language, is able to write fast and has a schedule that allows him to contribute to the blog regularly, Gardner added, during an address last week at the a blogger conference in Singapore.

Companies such as Sun Microsystems and Microsoft, have a community of employee bloggers who discuss topics related to their company's products and services.

Blogs fronted by chief executives are associated with "areas of thought leadership", and generally penned by respected industry figures, said Paul Chaney, president of the Professional Bloggers Association and president of business blog consultancy Radiant Marketing Group.

While Chaney added that other employees can contribute to the corporate blog, depending on the nature and aim of the online diary, he noted that the blog should be championed by "somebody who is in power".

Gardner also said that in contrast to the United States where there are prominent leaders who blog, high-level executive bloggers in the Asia-Pacific region are almost unheard of.

Shona Tan, Singapore head of marketing, SAS Institute: "Culturally, Asian corporate chiefs tend to be more reserved and reticent compared to their counterparts in the United States and Europe." SAS is a business intelligence software vendor.

Blogging puts a person's personal thoughts on a public platform, and Asian heads may be uncomfortable about this aspect of the online trend, she said.

Sandra Tan, public relations manager at Singapore-based education institute Nanyang Polytechnic, agreed: "How many Asian CEOs can face up to the potential criticism (from the public)?"

But Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, which has yet to start an online journal, acknowledges there are benefits of having a team of corporate bloggers.

Agnes Tan, the resort chain's head of online communications, told ZDNet Asia that the company has been exploring the idea of having a corporate blog to talk about issues relating to tourism. The company has about 5,000 employees worldwide, and operations in some 20 countries.

The potential bloggers, she added, would likely be a mixture of top executives such as the Banyan Tree's chairman, as well as project managers based in various countries who conduct research and prepare field reports.

"We probably don't want just the top-level people to blog," Tan said. "People need to also hear from those on the ground, people who actually conduct the research and are passionate about those issues."

Looking outside the blog
According to Gardner, the outsourcing of blogging activities is not an uncommon practice, especially for companies that use this platform to discuss wide-ranging topics. She noted that there are advantages to having non-employees blog for a company.

Freelance writers have established writing track records, can lend an air of "openness" and bring a fresh perspective to the company, she explained. However, because they do not know the company well enough or adequately understand its corporate culture, he may require more supervision, Gardner said.

One company that has made use of external bloggers is Hewlett-Packard (HP). In July, it initiated a blog and invited a freelance writer to provide a written account of an expedition to retrace the journeys of a well-known Chinese explorer six hundred years ago.

Lee Hui Li, HP's director of marketing and business services for the Asia-Pacific region, told ZDNet Asia in an e-mail interview that the personal accounts of the expedition and the use of pictorials can serve as a "customer relationship tool". This initiative can further entrench the company's position as a player in the imaging and printing industry to its blog-reading customers, she said.