BC Tip: IBM – A smart campaign page?

IBM has a sprawling web estate with many blogs dotted around it – and a page which tries to bring order to the disorder

IBM’s ‘Let’s put smart to work’ page

IBM’s ‘Let’s put smart to work’ page

The Feature

IBM created a portal page as part of its 2018 ‘Let’s put smart to work’ brand campaign to help direct users to relevant material around its large digital estate.

The portal has several videos, presumably created as part of the campaign, as well as links to upcoming events.

An ‘Industries’ area on the page collates links to case studies and blogs in other parts of IBM.com, such as its Internet of Things Blog.

What appears to be a navigation bar at the top of the page takes users to dedicated IBM sites for products or services, such as Watson.

The Takeaway

The creation of a page to support a campaign by making use of existing materials is, in many cases, a sensible idea, especially if the campaign itself directs users there.

IBM’s page certainly gives users a good idea of the wide range of engaging stories it has produced, which demonstrate how the company’s services can help its customers in many different industries.

But the problem with this particular page is that it has no obvious home in the IBM estate – indeed we stumbled across it rather than finding it through IBM’s navigation.

It is still being updated, as the advertisement for an upcoming event shows, and the information it showcases is still relevant, but we suspect that few users will be finding the page now, some months after the campaign’s launch.

None of the links we found on the page - including the ‘navigation bar’ - indicated where the user was being taken, even though IBM.com is effectively a vast federation of microsites and blogs with at best loose connections to each other. So users who follow the links will likely end up disorientated in one part or another of the estate.

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BC tip: Intel - Breaking news on a blog

The computer chip manufacturer shows another potential role for a resurgent online channel.

The Feature

Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, announced on Monday via a company blog, policy@intel, that he was quitting President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council. This followed the resignation of Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier, a higher-profile event in part because the US president attacked him personally on Twitter.

We could not find any reference to the resignation anywhere on Intel's corporate website, or even a link to the policy blog (including using the internal search engine). This goes for the online newsroom too, and we could not find an official press release.

The New York Times linked to the blog post directly in one of its stories about the resignation. 

The Takeaway

Intel using a blog to break news, rather than an online press release, makes sense – a blog is direct, easy for journalists to link to, and (usually) more readable for the general public than press releases.

In this case Intel had a ‘go to’ channel - it maintains a blog on public policy and so it was a natural fit.

The fact that we could not find the blog post or a link to it on the website is interesting, but it is not unusual for corporate sites to be silent about controversies. A big reason is often legal caution (although the Intel policy blog is run by Intel’s lawyers). 

We have noted how blogs have been making a comeback, although in some corners of the IT world they are well established. Google has long-favoured using blog posts over traditional press releases to disseminate company news. But not in every corner – Apple recently launched its first-ever blog, for technical discussions about artificial intelligence).

The point for other digital comms teams is that breaking controversial news is one more potential role for this ‘old is new again’ online channel. 

http://blogs.intel.com/policy/2017/08/14/intel-ceo-leaves-manufacturing-council/

 

BC tip: Virgin Group - Taking a view

A UK CEO’s blog post on Brexit offers lessons for other companies wanting to cut through online noise.

 

The Site

Richard Branson, co-founder of the Virgin Group, the UK investment conglomerate, has a blog on the company’s website, called ‘Richard’.

After the UK voted last week to leave the European Union, he wrote a post, ‘Calling for Parliament to take a second look at the EU referendum’. He criticised the UK’s Leave campaign for misleading the public, said that the vote was based on ‘false promises’, and urged people to sign a petition calling on Parliament to re-run the vote.

The Takeaway

Branson’s post takes a clear position on a controversial political issue, something many companies will be hesitant about. Branson’s forays into social media are not always so interesting, as we have noted here.

However, several companies we know are grappling with the question of how to gain traction for their online content amid all the noise. Addressing issues with a defined ‘point of view’ is one of the ways to do this, and ‘not being boring’ is another, both of which Branson accomplishes with his Brexit piece.

Organizations struggle to take clear-cut opinions for cultural reasons (reticence to stick heads above parapets) and practical reasons (no time to blog, worried about backlash). Your CEO does not have to go as far as having a public view on Brexit to be interesting – a clear-cut and compellingly argued take on, for example, an industry issue can be just as valuable for getting attention online.

https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/calling-parliament-take-second-look-eu-referendum


Behind the scenes at the museum - showcasing digital

The website of the UK-based Victoria and Albert Museum has a blog, which gives a behind-the-scenes view of life at the organization. It covers a variety of topics, ranging from lesser-known collections, forthcoming exhibitions, events and educational initiatives to the work of the curators and other museum specialists… including, unusually, the digital media department.

Posts by the digital team (several different authors write about their specialisms) offer a fascinating view of how the department works. Two of the best I read were about how the team hit a tight deadline for a design project and advice for agencies on successful pitches.

The writing has an informal tone that makes it accessible to a general audience, but includes enough detail to interest fellow online professionals. The articles I looked at had a healthy number of comments and timely responses from the digital team.

Hearing from an internal department on an organizational blog is highly unusual. Even sites with features about working life in the ‘core business’ tend to gloss over the service teams such as digital, accounts or corporate comms.

The subject matter is often focused on design, and given the remit of the museum (‘…promoting the practice of design and increasing knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the designed world’) there is a clear logic to describing its internal processes in this way.

However, I think there is a good argument for other organizations, including corporates, to follow their lead. What better way to attract the best candidates, for example, than to provide an inspiring insight into life all parts of the organization, including digital? A blog is the best place to include the occasional less formal ‘peep behind the curtain’.

- Mali Perdeaux