How Do You Make Them Understand?

By Deane Barker on February 14, 2005

Here’s something that plagues organizations and their Web sites: knowing what information should be published to their readers and having the willingness to publish that information. I don’t think a lot of organizations get it.

I just did some work for a group with which I’m involved. Part of the site was a section for “Updates.” Despite the fact that I know of at least a half-dozen things that deserved to be published as an update, nothing was ever done. They had an interface with which to update the site, and they could have just sent me an email or a Word document, but the site has remained silent.

As someone who blogs a lot, I guess my threshold for pushing something out onto the Web is a lot lower than other people’s. For every organization with which I’m involved, I know in my head what I want to see in terms of news or updates, and I can never understand why no one else sees this too.

I just think there’s a “mode” you need to be in regarding blogging or Web publishing. A lot of organizations are still stuck in the “paper newsletter, once a month” mode, whereby they have a publishing cycle and they work towards getting things done for the big burst of info. They’re not used to the constant trickle of information that the Web allows.

A lot of potential content for some organizations gets tossed as “too insignificant,” since it’s not something that would make the print version of the newsletter. And a lot of it gets labeled as such because it’s very “on the spot” – it relates to something that’s happened very recently or that’s happening at the moment – so it doesn’t live up to the semi-timeless quality they look for for their periodical communications. Things that would seem out of context three weeks later in the print newsletter are right at home in a time-stamped blog post.

The communication models of these organizations never gets...conversational, like a blog allows. They still seem very one-way, very formal.

Part of me wants to get people in a room, tie them to their seats, tape their eyelids open, and make them look at blogs for 10 hours straight. Perhaps then they start to shift their thinking about the information that they can, and should, push out there. What will it take to get these organizations to understand the new model? And is there a new model, or am I just blathering?

If indeed I’m on the right track with this, then we – meaning the blogging community and especially those who work with business and organizational blogging – need to collectively develop some training materials and resources that get people to understand. I’m wishing for a 30 minute training course or video that would suddenly make people...get it.

Comments (5)

Andy Todd says:

For the firehose approach you could point to Hugh Macleod’s blog;

His whole shtick is to impress on reluctant business people that the internet (and blogging) can be a good thing. OK, I’m paraphrasing a bit but it’s good material to put in front of those who do not necessarily see the same benefits from technology that those of us elbow deep in the stuff od.

Boyink says:

Funny...was thinking around the same issue on my site yesterday.

One issue I see is that most people just aren’t communicators. Communicators have some special gene that makes that connection from hearing or seeing something, and in the next nano-second thinking “that should go on the website” - blog or otherwise.

I can’t count how many times I’ll be periphial to a conversation where email addresses are being exchanged to ensure some data gets communicated to a group and I just throw out - “why don’t we just put it on the site”? It’s like people have a 3rd hand and you’re just reminding them to use it...

What’s sad is the number of stories that go untold because of this. I’m thinking more about church websites, but even in the business world – if you start talking to folks involved you’ll hear some cool stuff that’s happened...yet for some reason no one ever thinks to put it out on the web.

I’m not sure this is something that can be taught or trained. I’ve sure tried...with very limited success.

I think it’s time for “reporter” positions in companies and organizations – let’s hire someone who “gets it”, and charge them with posting things to the web.

You know who says:

Having somewhat similar problems here. The more I understand blogs, the more I feel traditional company “homepages” are dead. There’s just no communication going on. More like an archive with the need to update it every day. Rarely anyone gets it, nor do most companies have the structures yet to create anything but press-releases speaking in anonymous voices. Just plugging RSS on top won’t specifically help that either.

– PL of GB

Anonnie says:

It’s not just “regular” business people. It’s also other web designers/developers.

Big eCommerce site scheduled to go live on Friday. All custom. We’re in QA. 3 different companies involved.

I have had a project blog setup for ages on this one – it’s a group blog so we all can post. I figure it’s the perfect QA tool – find a bug, post it to the blog. Developers can comment, and entries can be closed out as issues get fixed.

(*&)*&( Project Manager just doesn’t get it (and she’s also the designer). Wants to do everything via email and attached Word docs because she “doesn’t have time to check the blog” – even though it emails her with each new entry.

So I’m to continue emailing her with issues -even though they may already be identified, even though it’s going to take her the same time to check her email as it would the blog, even though she’s going to have to keep updating and re-sending the bug list via email.

And I just launch we’re going to scramble around at some point trying to remember what stuff we didn’t fix....when it would have all been right there on the blog.

I can’t drag some people from their blasted email – even if they build web stuff for a living!

Ben Vail says:

((Joseph, etiquette tips combined with flaming... Oh, the irony. ^_^))

People like to stick to what they know... Even if there’s a better way ;-)