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the big blog company | it's all about who's on top and who's on the back
“Oh wow, that's a big blog you've got there!”
Some important bloke on some important blog.
What is the Big Blog Company?
And so we call for burning marketing departments to the ground, passing the plough over the soil to put an end in legal form to their existence and scattering their ashes in all four directions, until such time they come back worshiping the true god - the customer.

Stuff we have done
The Social Affairs Unit Ideal Government Stephen Pollard
SMLXL Adam Smith Institute David Smith's Economics UK
Who we are

We are a team of ardent bloggers who understand the impact of blogging and the network of blogs on communication. It gives individuals and companies the ability to generate and distribute their ideas more widely and effectively. We can help businesses and organisations to improve their reach and initiate genuine interaction with their audiences. We believe that markets are conversations and engaging them increases your chances of being heard.

We know that there is a great deal more to establishing a successful blog than setting up the publishing software. It is in our understanding of the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of effective blogging and how it can enhance a company’s business that the true value of the Big Blog Company lies.

We bring to our customers who decide to use weblogs as a branding, marketing or communication tool the skills necessary to achieve their objectives combined with an understanding of their needs and concerns.

We address both business and legal issues by identifying the appropriate use of a weblog for a particular business and by training employees in how to contribute to a weblog without compromising either the company’s or their own interests.

We introduce the concept to companies, think tanks, charities and institutions that rely on a loyal following, credibility and public awareness. The rise of weblogs and their increasing impact on the mainstream media have highlighted their potential as an effective alternative communication channel for companies. This has inspired the Big Blog Company to turn blogs into a credible tool that is able to improve upon and compete against traditional marketing, using the 4 million (and growing) network of blogs to its maximum potential.

The Big Blog Company’s partners have combined their business experience, skills in management of blogs and understanding of emergent technologies into a unified product. We offer companies an introduction to the ‘blogosphere’, a tailored strategy for how to engage it, and a complete service for their blogs. All three partners in tBBC are regular contributors to a popular and successful commentary/pundit blog listed in the top 15 of Blogstreet’s Most Important 100 Blogs.

The team

Adriana Cronin-Lukas, Partner - was released from Balliol into the community in 1996, serving her time as a management consultant with a Big Five firm in Central and Eastern Europe - ‘management’ and ‘consultancy’ meaning something to businesses in those parts of the world.

All this came to an end in 2002 when it became obvious that blogging is much more enjoyable than real work. Since then, the blogging has become her main preoccupation and a route to regaining sanity lost somewhere on the fourth floor of a tall, marble-encrusted building in the City. Adriana has applied her analytical powers to the potential of blogging and would like to make sure that companies also understand that markets are conversations. Occasionally she gets accused of problem-solving.

Perry de Havilland, Partner - is a serial entrepreneur and unreconstructed capitalist who has worked mostly in London, New York and Washington DC. As a recovering investment banker and broker he decided blogging was just vastly preferable to commuting. Perry is an editor of one of the 50 most influential political commentary blogs in the world.

He also discovered that whilst commuting sucks, having an income does not, and so in 2003 threw his lot with Adriana and David to turn his passion into business. He wants to show people how to blog within a commercial context and share his passion for money, which not only sounds good but can be great fun.

David J.K. Carr, Partner - businessman and lawyer, focus on legal matters and training; well-known pundit blogger, writer and commentator; former TV and radio scriptwriter; currently advising on a number of commercial and political campaigns. David thinks that chatty, “I don’t take myself too seriously” bios are tiresome, cringe-worthy, and flat-out wrong. We love him anyway.

Contact

Adriana Cronin-Lukas

mobile phone - +44 (0)7876-757129

Perry de Havilland

mobile phone - +44 (0)7813-300013

David J.K. Carr

mobile phone - +44 (0)7951-777307

Where we are going

The Big Blog Company is operating in an evolving territory. Right now, a lot of people are trying to figure out how to make money out of blogging. But where an individual blog may generate any revenue, it is more down to accident instead of a deliberate business model. For us, the focus is not on blogging for money, but on showing established, money-making businesses how blogging can help them to make themselves even more successful and profitable. That is why we decided to help companies to understand and use blogs and the blogosphere to cut out the middlemen in their communication with customers, markets and industry peers.

What we are thinking

The Big Blog Company builds on the philosophy of the Cluetrain Manifesto, whose authors have urged companies to regard markets as conversations. The central message is that far from aiding such exchanges between companies and customers, formulaic corporate PR is an obstruction to the process in an era in which sophisticated, internet-savvy and information-rich customers regard slick marketing-speak as something to be filtered out.

The Cluetrain authors point out that the internet has restored the original conversational dynamic of the marketplace, where individuals exchange information in their authentic voices. They herald the end of “business-as-usual,” describing how the internet has changed information asymmetries forever. “Business-as-usual” is characterised as top-down control of employees by a de-personalized corporation and a barrier erected between customers and its employees, who are the natural communicators of the company’s authentic voice. In the traditional model, marketing and public relations are one-way channels through which customers are bombarded with messages. Top-down, cookie cutter, de-personalised marketing has become an annoying barrier to communication, the opposite of a conduit to valuable customer relationships.

Companies that do not join the conversation will soon have no customers to talk to. The internet enables customers to talk about the company amongst themselves, by-passing corporate messages, if they wish to. Allowing employees, the true repository of the company’s value, to join these conversations and communicate directly with customers enhances the company’s credibility and increases its presence in the marketplace.

Weblogs offer a way for companies to reclaim a place in the marketplace conversations using their employees’ credible voices. Blogging helps the company to build a community around it and provide an informal focus for customer loyalty. Blogging is individualistic, customised, and scalable. It originated in individual conversations and is a ground-up, grassroots phenomenon. Technology is changing the modern corporation.

We are at the end of the command and control business world. We are at the beginning of the coordinate and cultivate business world. We are experiencing:

  • Movement toward human freedom in business that may be as fundamental as democracy was in government 200 years ago
  • Lower transaction costs and globalisation that combine to create enormously efficient and dynamic markets
  • Large corporations allowing 100% of the workforce to represent them in the marketplace (eg Sun Microsystems allowing any employee to blog on the company’s site)
  • Globalisation and technology trends that, taken to their logical conclusion, mean that eventually corporations will trump nations
  • Large online sites that can be described as communities with an individual mayor heading up each one (eg eBay is the community of 40 million people and Meg Whitman is the mayor)

Plain speaking

Our most recent thinking has been captured in an article by Michael Nutley, the editor of the New Media Age Magazine. Here is the text of the article published on 13th January 2005. We have wayz of making you read…

Adriana Cronin-Lukas is on a mission to educate and convince companies of the benefits of improved communications through blogging, discovers Michael Nutley.

“There are two trends in online marketing.  One is to say, ‘This is our message and we’ll use all the new technology to make it louder and harder to escape.’ I’m working on the other trend.”

Adriana Cronin-Lukas is a woman with a mission. Her goal, she says, is “to make companies open themselves up”.  And her method of choice is blogging.

Cronin-Lukas discovered blogging in 2001 when, inspired by the book The Cluetrain Manifesto, she was working on ways for insurance giant Lloyds to use the Internet.  A friend took her to the first British Blogger Bash, organised by the founder of Samizdata, a group blog of socio-political commentary.  As a child of activist parents in Czechoslovakia, she found the idea of 21st Century pamphleteering, “using the blog format to give a persistent worldview”, immediately appealing.  She started writing for Samizdata and eventually became an editor.

But Cronin-Lukas is also a trained management consultant, so she soon started thinking about the brand Samizdata had built and how its approach could be applied to business.  She asked a fellow blogger who was a media lawyer to explain to her the legal problems companies might face using blogging, and then set up The Big Blog Company to bring the blogging message to companies.  At the same time, Google was buying Pyra, the company behind blogger.com, and bloggers were starting to think about how they might make money out of what had previously been little more than a hobby.

Cronin-Lukas has strong views about the commercial use of blogs. A blog is something that can help a brand to make money, not something that makes money itself, she says.

Instead she emphasises what she calls the value-for-value exchange. It’s true there’s no such thing as free content.  You’re being paid in attention,” she explains.” Any monetisation shouldn’t disrupt that value-for-value exchange that’s already happening.

Instead Cronin-Lukas sees the value of blogs as allowing companies to tell customers their story and the stories behind what they’re selling.  Instead of entertaining people into hearing about your company, you tell them what you think they might want to know, she says.

She cites Microsoft as a classic example of a company recognising the power of blogging. 

Robert Scoble worked with the developers of Longhorn at Microsoft.  His blog is called Scobleiser and with it he cracked the monolithic facade of Microsoft.  Almost singlehandedly he changed the perception of Microsoft as the devil in Redmond; he humanised it.  Microsoft recognised this and started its Channel 9 group blog for developers, addressing the developer community outside Microsoft.

Channel 9, named after the in-flight channel on some airlines that allows passengers to listen to exchanges between the cockpit and air traffic control, is an example of the kind of blog that most interests Cronin-Lukas.

One-person blogs are all very well.  People call me in to advise them on how they can use a personality within their company to write a blog.

What’s more likely is I’ll suggest a group blog; a Channel 9 for the whole company.

She gives the example of VC firm Augusta Capital, which has a group blog discussing the issues surrounding venture capital. 

VC is supposed to be a black art; it’s not something you’d instinctively think of blogging about.  So if Augusta Capital can have a blog, anyone can.

It also shows that the company brand can emerge as a collective identity by allowing individuals to express themselves.

And Cronin-Lukas sees a further value in encouraging employees to blog.  A blog can be a tangible way of storing expertise, she explains.  That’s one of the ways it repays the time put into it. It can make the intellectual capital stored within your employees tangible, because they’re writing it all down.

This goes hand-in-hand with another of her main interests: using blogging to improve internal communications.

I’m trying to reproduce the dynamics of the blogosphere within a company. It’s not a technical problem, it’s a human problem.  Content management system approaches aren’t working as a way of getting departments to communicate, because there’s nothing in it for the people who are supposed to be using them.

Taking the idea that the basic unit of a company is the individual, I’m trying to get firms to let everyone have a blog and see what emerges, she says. 

A lot of what I do requires a mindshift on behalf of the companies I’m talking to.  I’ve come to see my job as being much more about education in recent months.

The wave has already broken in the US, but we’re only inching towards it in this country.  People in the UK are more responsive to ideas, but it’s harder to get them to try new things.

Trying new things is crucial for Cronin-Lukas. It’s what brought her back to the UK after she’d trained as a management consultant.

My plan was to go back and use those skills in my country, doing what would have been very useful work, but I had to come back to the UK to be at the cutting edge, she says.

And it’s also what drives her enthusiasm for blogging.  She sees the blogosphere as the next step in the development of the Internet.

The Internet is not a channel, it’s a network.  It can behave as if it’s a channel, but that’s only part of what it can do.  The problem with Web sites is that they’re not designed for the Internet.  They’re network nodes by default, not design.  They have the legacy of being conceived as something very different to what a network node should be, and it’s the user who loses out.

An agency can produce a beautiful site that the client loves, but it expects users to sit and watch it.  That’s not how network nodes work.  If you want to use the Web properly, you have to design your Web presence as a network node.  And blog software builds optimal network nodes.  Think of the blogosphere as Internet 2.0.

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