Tag Archives: blogging

Oscar Lopez, where are you?

When I wrote my first book ‘Outsourcing to India’ I remember attending an event at London Business School and hearing a distinguished Indian business commentator tell me that he could have written a better book. My advice to him was to write his book rather than talk of the hypothetical possibility of him ever publishing it – even if it is better than my own effort.

I’ve never claimed that my first book was a masterpiece. It was an observation on the changing nature of business at that time and specifically dealt with India from the perspective of an outsider – so the critic would have struggled to achieve anything similar as it was intended to gaze at India through the eyes of a visitor anyway.

And that book did the job. It’s out of date now because the industry moves so fast in India, but it’s remarkable how much of that commentary is still valid today.

At present, I’m writing on the NASSCOM India Leadership Forum blog. The forum is the biggest IT and IT-enabled services event in India and takes place every February, I’m leaving for Mumbai on Sunday. I’m blogging in advance of the event and will be reporting on that blog with information about what is going on at the event itself.

It seems already that the debate over Indian companies using social media has touched a nerve. A recent blog post by Vishal Gondal criticised the lack of insight many Indian tech firms are showing when it comes to social media. He got several quite nasty comments. I added a comment suggesting that his views should be listened to because even if it is painful to hear, some of his observations ring true. Then “Oscar Lopez” commented on me!

“It is easy for someone like Mark Kobayishi Hillary to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude – he himself has been known NOT to respond to criticism of his views – especially in the wake of his diatribe against Indian software companies in the UK. Mark, you will do well to read your own words and follow them.”

Well , that’s a surprise. So now I have anonymous critics who won’t even put their own real name on blog posts or engage me in conversation about what they think and feel?

The real issue here is over opinions. Clearly I have expressed an opinion that has upset Oscar. But then if I never expressed any opinions, I couldn’t write or blog very effectively. However, I’d like to imagine that most of my opinions are formed from an intelligent analysis of research, facts, and experience. Clearly Oscar doesn’t agree.

I’d be interested to hear more from “Oscar”, in particular to understand what my diatribe against Indian companies in the UK might be all about. And as my contact details are all publicly available and I’m actively participating in a number of online forums, I’m not sure how I have failed to respond to some critical points.

Oscar, it’s over to you.

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Is it a crime to be a ghost?

As I scanned what my Twitter friends were saying today I saw a tweet expressing shock at hearing about ‘corporate ghost blogging’. I noticed a few tweets mentioning the subject today, probably as a result of the discussion going on at the Dell B2B huddle in Bracknell.

Ghost blogging elicits a shocked response from many in the online community, who believe that it’s no longer real or engaging if a corporate blogger has had all the work done for them by a writer.

It’s certainly true. There is a lot of corporate spam out there – particularly on Twitter. Accounts that just advertise various products or services are not what I’m focused on at all – or interested in.

What interests me is where do you draw the line and say that a blogger is no longer a ‘real’ blogger because his/her material is ghosted?

I work with companies in several sectors, including IT, law, consulting, and in many cases I am involved in drafting blogs. I see it really as an extension of the corporate writing work I’ve been doing for ages. Companies used to ask writers like me to come up with ‘Thought Leadership’ or material they could use in ‘white papers’.

For corporates, blogging is a natural extension of this earlier thought leadership. They want to be seen with a voice, an opinion, and some knowledge about the industry in which they operate – and all without a direct sales pitch.

So when we talk about ghost blogging online in shocked and horrified voices, let’s start drawing a distinction. When I do it, I’m taking rough blog drafts from executives and turning their copy into something worth blogging, making their use of language more direct, making the comment more open-ended to encourage debate. I’m not writing the blog for them, I’m just polishing up their own efforts because most execs either have a shortage of time or a shortage of writing experience. To a journalist, cranking out 200 words is easy. To a busy exec with no journalism experience, that’s half a day sitting and writing then improving the copy.

Sometimes I will write an entire blog, but that will be based on a conversation with the exec – who is normally rushing around somewhere in a taxi or limo. It’s not crafted from the depths of my own mind.

So, if I’m polishing up some executive thoughts and making them worth blogging, then is that really cheating?

If people think it is, then they might want to have a look at the serious press. Take a look at all those guest columns where captains of industry have sent 800-words to the editor on a burning issue. Do you really think that CEO sat down and crafted the newspaper column without running it past someone to tidy up?

Twitter is another topic entirely. As many companies have found, it’s difficult to create a corporate account and expect thousands of avid followers to come and follow a stream of press releases. Executives making Twitter work well are doing so because it’s short, direct, and personal – and written by the person on the profile.

So where do we draw the line with ghosting and blogs?

Fun and Games at the IT Blog Awards 2009

I was at the Computer Weekly IT Blogs awards on Wednesday night at Shoreditch house. It’s a nice club just outside the City and was overrun by bloggers, geeks, and Twitter users all night. There was even a large screen on the wall displaying TweetDeck and filtered on the hashtag #ITBlogs so anyone talking about the event on Twitter could see their messages appear live on the wall – whether they were actually at the event or not…

It was nice to chat with the new chief editor of Computer Weekly, Bryan Glick. Of course I worked with Bryan when he was editor of Computing, and he only just left so in the past couple of weeks I have seen him at a big awards function for Computing, then Computer Weekly.

I was shortlisted for the best analyst or consultant blog. Unfortunately I didn’t win, but then again I had no real expectations of winning because I never ran a big online campaign asking people to vote for me. I just didn’t have the time as I only found out I was shortlisted quite close to the closing date for voting – I found out because I went to vote and saw my own name on the shortlist!

Still, it’s great to get shortlisted for a national blogging award. It’s certainly a recognition that the approach I take on the Talking Outsourcing blog works for a lot of people. Let’s face it; there are a lot of very dry and boring newsletters and blogs on sourcing. Either they are dominated by contract wins or sales speak. I think my more personal approach to a business blog strikes a chord with a lot of people.

It was fun to meet some people I only know from Twitter – and to recognise them in person from a memory of their profile photo – like Dr Black from Westminster University, and some of the Computer Weekly team. I also got to chat with the marketing team from CapGemini, who I usually only ever talk to on Twitter.

There was a funny moment during the awards presentation. The award for best blog on the environment went to Greenbang. I sent a text immediately after the announcement to Greenbang founder, Dan Ilett asking why he was not at the function. He called me within seconds to explain that he had to attend a family funeral. I was standing next to Bryan Glick so I passed him the phone… the awards were still being handed out and Dan was listening to the editor congratulating him from the event just seconds after he had won. And Dan really couldn’t believe he had won so it was really nice to get him on the phone like that.

Thanks to everyone who voted for me anyway, and especially to whoever nominated me to be featured in the awards in the first place. I didn’t self-nominate so someone out there thinks the blog is worthy at least!