Today’s topic is full disclosure in blogs and the use of competitive marketing blogs. I had to look at this issue from a lot of angles and ask the critical question of myself “would I do this for our anti-Oracle initiatives?”. The catalyst for this post is a blog written by a founding executive of a company competing with SAP and while I have an issue with the use of a competitive blog targeted to a specific company (in this case a product) I do want to emphasize that this is not a flame post.
Sangeeta Patni writes a blog called Why Duet/Mendocino? that is very critical of the joint SAP/Microsoft product Duet. She has also posted comments on my blog and several others that have written about Duet. Sangeeta is also the founder of a company called Extensio that is a competitor to the Duet product.
Here’s the dilemma, Sangeeta has taken no effort to conceal her identity or use a pseudonym on her anti-Duet blog or in any comments, she uses her full name and her real email address. Her comments reflect a solid understanding of the market and the products and are insightful, and yes they have sharp elbows but even there she is very professional. Her full profile on her blog reveals that she is the executive of Extensio, but it’s only when you click on the full profile, the profile snippet on the blog just says “Enterprenuer, Dreamer-Engineer, Evangelist for easy-to-use software”.
I emailed this post to Sangeeta last week because I respect the professionalism she leads with and didn’t want to come across like I was attacking her. She replied back to me promptly with some good comments and indicated that she didn’t have any issue with me posting about this… and that’s exactly why I sent this to her before posting, the blogosphere can use a little professional courtesy. Here’s part of her reply to me:
“It is not unusual for professionals to bring an element of the perspective of the company they work for in their blogs. Not surprising at all, since most of us believe passionately in the work we do within our companies, and strongly believe in the value the company brings to the community, as a whole. I have seen many instances of engineers from Microsoft, IBM and even SAP who blog about the work they do within their companies, and about the value of the products they help create. I have done the same. “
I do agree with what Sangeeta is writing (how could you not?) but in this case the blog in question is not a blog about integrating office productivity applications with backoffice systems, it’s a blog specifically about a competitive product from Microsoft/SAP. It is by definition an “anti” blog, while the great majority of professionals who are blogging about what they do are not attacking in this way. Indeed, I lead a Oracle competitive strategy team for SAP but I write very little about Oracle. BTW, Sangeeta did commit to addressing the issue of disclosing her role at Extensio on the main page of the blog rather than just on her full profile page.
What do you think? When someone is writing a blog that is aimed at one company, or in this case a product, and is written by an individual who is with a competitor of that company, should they include a disclosure statement indicating their bias? Can this be an effective marketing tactic or are attack strategies doomed by definition because customers don’t want to hear or read attacks on other companies, they would rather focus on what you are doing? Where is the line when an executive is writing about their marketplace by writing about their competitors in this fashion?
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