Monthly Archives: February 2007

Self promotion

Many of us are uncomfortable about self promotion, even if it is with regard to something that other people would really want to know about.David Maister talks about this phenomenon in this very interesting post and podcast.

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Corporate blogging – my thoughts

Over at Abhilasha’s blog I found some interesting questions raised by her on corporate blogging. In this post I attempt to answer a few of them:

1. Why should my organization blog?
For starters, if you are a consumer facing company (B2C), it helps to have an open conversation with your customer. Customers love to know what their favourite companies are upto. This is more so in the case of products that early adopters love (tech products, gadgets etc). A corporate blog can also become a very human touch point for customers, when compared to a boring website or even worse, a call center!

2. What realistic expectations can my organization have about the benefits of blogging, and what
obvious pitfalls or shortcomings should we be wary of?
A great, engaging blog does a lot more PR than a press release ever will. A great corporate blog can also help develop a loyal community of users around a product. Human beings love to be connnected to causes – sometimes, merely promoting a great product (like the I-pod) can be a cause. A blog can help create such a cause.

3. Who in the organization should blog?
I would say, the most important decision makers should. That way promises made on the blog will carry much more credibility.

4. What role does PR/ Corporate Communications have in this?
None! Blogs are the new age response to that tiring, sugar coated thing called the press relase.

5. What guidelines/policy should govern corporates bloggers?
Preferably none. However office bitching could be avoided!! A broad guideline coule be – say anything you want, as long as it is something that the customer is interested in knowing.

6. How can my organization measure the impact effectiveness of corporate blogging?
There is no need to really measure effectiveness. Think of it this way – what is the impact of a CEO talking one to one with millions of customers everyday? Its difficult to put a number to that. That’s because the revenue you earn from a corporate blog is goodwill.

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XLRI Alumni in 2006-07

Prof. Madhukar Shukla compiles what XL alumni have been upto over the last year.

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Begging for attention

I wonder why people cringe and look away when encountered by beggars. I think there are two reasons. One reason could be that by looking away, we hope we don’t have to face the reality of the existence of such people. The other less obvious reason is probably to save the beggar the embarrasment of our gaze. I think both reasons play out simultaneously when we look away. It’s an interesting pointer to both natures within us – the tendency to exist in a cocoon of our private universe with its private reality, and on the other end, the humaneness in all of us.

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Kawasaki on market adoption

The top ten stupid ways to hinder market adoption

Guy includes one of my pet peeves – enforced immediate registration – as one of the barriers. Couldn’t agree with him more. I don’t understand what the additional value ‘registration’ brings in in an Internet scenario, where identities can easily be faked. I’d rather have a million anonymous users than 100 users about whom I know everything, and whom I can later target for promotional offers.

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Black Friday – the review

There is a shot in Black Friday that will stay with you long after the credits roll out. It’s the way the camera slowly moves over people who have just been hit by the blasts at the Bombay Stock Exchange. The chilling silence in those shots, and the shock on the faces of the bleeding victims reminds us of the tragedy of innocent people who lose their lives in terror attacks. These are the everyday people we meet, who work hard to make ends meet, and who couldn’t care less about their religious identity and yet find themselves right in the middle of such acts of terror.

Black Friday explores the events leading to the Mumbai blasts of ’93, and the investigations that ensued. It straddles both sides of the story quite well – with Kay Kay Menon as the sincere cop who is behind the truth at all costs, and on the other end the team of perpetrators behind the blast, led by Tiger Memon. Each camp is steely in its resolve – one, to inflict on Mumbai an act of terror that would send ripples across the world, the other to bring these people to justice in the face of all the inefficiencies of the police system. Symbolic of the latter is a chase scene showing a cop running behind one of the suspects. The chase turns farcical when both the cop and the suspect are so tired of running that they decide to slow down to the point of both walking at a comfortable pace, one behind the other, each fully knowing the end result of this enterprise (the arrest of the suspect).

Anurag Kashyap’s grim and no nonsense portrayal of the planning behind the blasts is truly chilling – be it the process of making those bombs, the way in which each of the bombs was planted, and the actual explosions. Yet the film does not entirely try to be a documentary about the chronological sequence of events. In fact one of the best things about the film is its detailed portrayal of the journey of one of the characters – Badshah, played by Aditya Srivastava – a young devout Muslim who is brainwashed into joining the cause. As a desperate man on the run in the aftermath of the explosions, Badshah gradually begins to come to terms with the futility of it all, and ultimately turns into a police witness. The depth of the performance by Aditya Srivastava truly makes one feel that this little side story had enough in it to be a film in itself.

An interesting device used in the film is how actual news footage is interspersed in the midst of the story. These news clips serve to remind us that the story that we are watching is not some fictitious thriller. Instead it is very much a part of our own lives – a part that we repress so much that you wouldn’t see it on the face of the average Mumbaikar who grimly hangs out of a local train each morning on his way to work at Nariman Point.

At the end, Black Friday does not try to polarize its viewers into supporting any camp – Hindu or Muslim. The demolition of Babri Masjid, and the riots that followed were just as gruesome as the thirteen retaliatory bomb blasts at Mumbai. The film suggests that the ultimate villains are powerful people who infuse religious fanaticism into the masses, with the intention of perpetuating their own hold on power. The realism in Black Friday also manages to restore some faith in Indian cinema, which is yet to outgrow its fetish for wedding songs and yuppie love.

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Corporate blogs

What kind of companies should start blogs to communicate with their customers? My thoughts:

1. Smallish startups that don’t have marketing budgets
2. Companies that have very few product lines, or even better just one product. That way the conversation can be 1 to N. N to N conversations are just noise!
3. Companies whose brands directly touch individual customers. I wouldn’t recommend a steel maker to start a blog for instance. I would certainly like to see, say, a winemaker with a blog (like this one). People would like to talk to or listen to brands that they directly relate to.
4. Large organizations that have people who are mini-celebrities in their own right – Steve Jobs, Robert Scoble etc.

At the end of the day, a blog is just a medium. The message is always more important than the medium. So, unless you have something compelling to say to your customer don’t start a blog!


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