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By B.L. Ochman
A dozen big companies who are largely without a clue about blogs, let along social media marketing, have formed The Blog Council under the leadership of Andy Sernovitz. Kudos to Sernovitz for getting himself a consulting gig that’s surely lucrative on several levels. But this dog don’t hunt.
The gated Blog Council community’s stated purpose is to meet behind closed doors in “a vendor-free environment and share tactics, offer advice based on past experience, and develop standards-based best practices as a model for other corporate blogs.”

Translation: “we’re talking about blogs, not listening to them.”

And they’re off to a rip-roaring start. The blog council doesn’t have a blog. Doh! Or any way to leave feedback on their site. Doh! message_control.jpgSernovitz, co-founder of the bastion of cronyism known as the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, recently said on his blog: “It’s really too bad that being a grouchy cynic is often considered a badge of honor among major bloggers. The general level of pessimism and meanness is just sad. Blogs should celebrate. They should celebrate freedom and openness. They should revel in the joy of fresh ideas. They should be fun.”

Translation: “Feedback schmeedback. To hell with them. If they can’t be positive, don’t listen to them. Tell them to come out of their rooms when they change their attitude.”

Feel free to call me a grouchy cynic, but The Blog Council is cut from the same cloth as WOMMA, which is missing community and collaboration, the two foundations of effective word of mouth. (Here’s a little background on WOMMA.)
Alec Saunders says Council Schmouncil!

“… Blog Council? It’s laughable,… Good heavens, people! Get a grip! You don’t need a cozy little exclusive club to figure out what to do with blogs. Just get on the net, start talking to your customers and advocates, and start interacting with people outside the strictures of twentieth century command and control marketing.”

But then again, WOMMA has done a bit of blog bashing before. Sernovitz was quoted in Media Post article about WOMMA board member Edelman’s ethics breaches, saying of the bloggers who chastised Edelman for Microsoft Laptop-gate and the fake blog scandal with its client, Wal-Mart. “This is a small group of anti-corporate bloggers who would attack all marketers… Because it was Edelman, they get outed by the people who are looking for a scandal. But there’s no story here.”

Translation: Bloggers who call out companies that are behaving unethically are just a bunch of kvetches. Don’t listen to them. (See a pattern in his viewpoint?)

I guess that Sernovitz’ message brings comfort to suits who are scared by what they see as the unruly mob that is the blogosphere. And so now, they want to take control of the message so they can control their reputations. Like in the good old days. You know, the days that never actually existed except in the minds of suits like this old boy network.
If, as they say, they needed to get together to discuss issues privately, why have they gone to the trouble of promoting their organization with a blog and press releases? Why didn’t they just get together once a quarter and invite other companies to join them? There are plenty of industry roundtables that do just that.
Were they worried that bloggers would find out what they were doing and assail them for lack of transparency?
Jeff Jarvis
Dave Taylor
Robert Scoble
Shel Israel
David Parmet
Paul GIllin