Thanks for all the thoughtful comments on the past post. Ephraim, that was a particularly strong argument, but I am not persuaded. Dave Taylor, I'm sorry I popped off at you. It was inappropriate, but I do completely and passionately disagree with your argument that blogging is just another arrow in the marketing tools quiver.
Let's talk for a minute of how I interpret the term "Integrated Marketing Solution (IMS)," and how I heard it used during the years I was in marketing.
A company's marketing people start a process that starts in a room with a white board. They collaborate on something the call a positioning statement. It is a statement not a position, because most of these professionals understand the market will position their product, service or company. The statement involves what they will push out through various marketing channels, particularly advertising and PR, but it also carries into all forms of communications, even corporate ID down to the business cards. The idea is to speak with one voice. The idea is to take that positioning statement and push it out to target audiences in as many ways possible, so that members of the "target audience" keep getting message reinforcement wherever they turn, whatever they read or listen to, whatever trade event they attend. The message is delivered in different ways through these various channels. IMS has been popular for at least a dozen years and for a long time was quite effective.
But before blogging came along, OMS was starting to develop chinks. The costs kept rising and the effectiveness started falling down. This led companies to not abandon IMS, but to look more closely at new channels into which they can funnel old messages in new ways. This is how MacDonald's came out with their lame Lincoln Fry blog. It was an integration with their Super Bowl ad. Vichy's first blog, used a language and a model that was contained in their ad campaign, an ad campaign by the way, that continues to be fairly effective. But the message, and look of the ads failed miserably in a blog. The latter blog was uncoupled from the remainder of the marketing campaign, as Lynn Serfaty, the Vichy director of marketing told me when I interviewed he for Naked Conversations. There is no question, in Vichy's mind which blog was integrated and which was not. If anything, the latter blog, Journal de ma Peau was integrated with French women over age 35 and the earlier version, tied into an IMS offended them.
If blogging integrates, it does so with a company's constituencies, not with the remainder of marketing tools. Marketing should use blogs because blogs communicate well in two directions. They don't work well when the intent is to push out messages in one direction. They don't work well for companies that still don't want to listen to customers.
This does not mean that company bloggers should not collaborate and/or cooperate with marketing and PR.
The shiniest example I know is Robert Scoble, someone who clearly does not integrate with Microsoft's Marketing Solutions. In fact he often causes them trouble. But Robert is about relationships with Microsoft's community. He's about improving Microsoft's credibility. He evangelizes the Microsoft technology that he believes in. He defends company policy when he believes its worth defending.
And when he thinks that policies or products are crap, he says so as well. For the most part, what Robert has to say, helps Microsoft marketing and PR, I think more than the other company's efforts combined. He talks with marketing and PR, so he knows what's coming down the line. They know what they would like him to talk about, but they are powerless to tell him what to talk about, and even more powerless to tell him what to say.
Robert and Microsoft do not speak with one voice. Robert speaks with his own voice. He doesn't integrate and if he did, all the good he has done for Redmond would be significantly diminished.