THE QUESTIONS AT PRAGUE
Here’s the blog entry that you’ve all been waiting for.
WHAT WAS DISCUSSED AT THE ALTICOR GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS CONFERENCE?
Or at least, what did they want to know from all the bloggers invited.
Shortly after I returned from Prague, I wrote Rob Zeiger, Director of Communications with Alticor and Dino Baskovic, Alticor consultant and moderator of our panel discussion, and asked for a copy of the questions asked of the Bloggers 5.
Let me say, that at no time during the conference were we told NOT to blog about the conference. It was pretty much expected that we would. But, although I took a few notes, I was more intent on answering the questions as they were ask. So I was happy that Dino sent me a copy of the questions when I requested them. This conference really convinced me that Alticor/Amway/Quixtar really wants to be transparent in its Internet presence.
The conference session opened with Dino giving a short Powerpoint presentation on what Blogging is, What blogs can do, and how Quixtar, Amway, and Alticor are using blogs. The ease of setting up a blog was mention and different Blog platforms like WordPress and Blogger were mentioned.
The Alticor Media Blog and the Amway Media Blog were began to address questions from, who else, but the Media. At the time, Dick DeVos, son of Amway Founder Rich DeVos was running for Governor of Michigan and his connection with Amway was an issue during the campaign.
After the campaign(and DeVos’ loss) the two media blogs began to address Alticor lawsuits and troubles with terminated Independent Business Owners affiliated with Alticor.
Dino then introduced the invited bloggers and briefly explained their blogging efforts.
Although, the conference organizers knew all the attendees’ real names, each blogger was introduced as their Internet personae. Their anonymity was important to the organizers.
Our audience consisted of Public Relations and Communications staff from Quixtar; Alticor Global; and Amway in Europe, including China. The China delegation had their own interpreter. (My personal nightmare was how the Interpreter might handle my Southern colloquialisms)
I will answer the questions here at “On The Road With Dave”, but it’s my hope that the rest of the bloggers invited will answer them as well in the comments AND ANY OTHER Quixtar/Amway blogger(critics, too) can give their answers.
I’m sure Dino and Rob Zeiger will read your answers.
1. When did you first start blogging about Amway, and why?
I began commenting at the Original Quixtar Blog back in 2003. I was a frequent contributor to the blog’s forum, as well. I even guest blogged at the site. I was then challenged by Eric Janssen, the site author; to start my own blog as an IBO with a positive, but objective view of the Amway/Quixtar world.
2. Many blogs have their own ground rules, and certainly the blogosphere has many rules of the road. What rules—if any—do you govern yourself by when you blog, and for what reasons?
I don’t have any set rules other than I do not actively recruit potential IBOs or sell Quixtar products at my blog. I do not accept advertising at my blog, although like any blogger, I “link exchange” with other blogs I like.
As for my readers, they are welcome to leave their comments. Moderation is minimal, only to delete SPAM and illegal or libelous material. Opposing views are always welcomed, but ultimately my blog is my “show”.
3. In your opinion, what do you think of our company’s approach to blogging? If you could, what would you change about the way we blog?
At first, only a few blogs like Beth Dornan’s had a real “voice. A blog must have a personal voice, even if it is a corporate blog. That problem seems to be on the mend. Also, at first there seemed to be more “PR” than “blog”.
Currently, the Alticor/Quixtar/Amway blogs remain “static” too long. Updates can be sporadic. If a particular blog entry elicits numerous responses from readers, then the corporate bloggers need to update with another entry addressing those responses in detail. The conversation among commenters goes on without much more response from the corporate blogger.
4. How has blogging helped you as an individual, as an advocate for the company, and as an “online citizen”? (In my notes, this question was “Has Blogging made you a better person?)
I’m not sure blogging has made me a “better” person; but it has made me a better writer and a better thinker. As an “online citizen” it has afforded me the opportunity to meet good people with diverse opinions and I have online friends and new “offline” friends that I have met as a direct result from blogging and “social networks” online.
5. Do you participate in other online venues, such as with sites like MySpace or Facebook, or do any podcasting? Do you feel that our involvement in these venues makes sense given the nature of our business? Please explain your answer.
I started my Internet life in the early 90s with AOL. I was in chatrooms, message boards, forums. When I discovered the Internet, it was like I injected the modem line directly in my vein. I am hooked.
I participate in blogging, commenting at other blogs, I have a MySpace page, A Facebook page, a Comedian’s Community, I’m also at LinkedIN. I have a big ego; I want people to know who I am. (This response got laughs, The Chinese people smiled)
As far as Alticor getting involved in “social networking” sites, I would say that employees or IBOs should feel free to join, if they have the inclination and time. I am already friends on Facebook with Dino, Beth Dornan, and Robin Luymes. The Corporation, itself, doesn’t really need a site like MySpace.
6. Our blogging presence – the way we blog, how we blog and what we say – is evolving over time. We are still in the learning stages. Many of the audience members here are professional communicators from our Amway affiliates all over the world. What advice can you give our audience members as they continue to embrace blogging as a tool of communication?
Be authentic. Use your name. Write what is on your mind. Be Personal. A blog reader wants to “know” the author. Don’t rely on the company name “tagged” in all your posts to build your readership. If you have diverse content in your blog, readers will find you doing many different type “searches”. They may find you because you did a post on “little league soccer” and then stick around to read other things you have written; including things about the company.
There was a follow-up question to this regarding other Quixtar and Amway IBOs starting a blog and if Alticor should encourage this. I stated that while many IBOs may have passion to write positive things about the company in a blog…not everybody can write a blog or even “string” three coherent sentences together. I’m a blog snob, not everybody can do it, even though anybody can start a blog in as little as 5 minutes.
7. Do You Make Any Money Blogging?
Not directly. I have gained comedy gigs from blogging and of course, a major global Direct Sales company paid me to discuss blogging. (I think the Chinese people smiled again)
8. Many of the people in this audience primarily deal with reporters and are just now beginning to deal with bloggers. There has been much debate in recent years whether bloggers carry the same rights and privileges, as do traditional journalists. Do you feel bloggers and journalists are one in the same, and should we treat bloggers with the same level of professional courtesy as we do with reporters?
This question didn’t get answered at the conference by me in detail, another panelist answered it. (I forget who). But Dino, my answer would have been–Bloggers and Journalists are the same when the Blogger is covering an issue that is newsworthy. Bloggers are “influencers” if their readership is influenced by them and in turn make a decision about a company. But, a company such as Alticor should treat ANYONE online with respect and professional courtesy, simply because you don’t know what the ripple effect they may have on the online community.
I am trained as a journalist; so you can treat me like one. And needless to say, I did hear a couple of “This is off the record” statements.
9. As a global company, we must cooperate with different governments and respect their laws and customs as a rule of doing business. That said, how has blogging impacted the global marketplace?
Blogging as well as the Internet itself, has made the global marketplace more open. A person in another country that might not have access to certain information about a company in a country other than their own, need only perform a “Google search” to find information, market data, profit and loss, and litigation results. Plus, word-of-mouth advertising and personal testimonies via blogs hold weight across international borders.
10. Do you think that blogging has changed the direct selling industry as a whole? Why or why not?
Yes. Information travels faster via blogs and Internet forums, than knocking on doors and doing cold calls. Therefore, a direct seller and Direct Sales companies have to alter their methods of presentation in an online society.
FINALLY, Dino said that over the past year or so; Alticor was trying to transform itself and its companies and its online reputation. In a one-word, “Yes or No” answer; Do you believe the company is already being transformed?
We all answered, YES.
And I do believe it. Not Overnight. Small Steps. But the transformation is happening.
That’s it. There was “give and take” and debate among the panelists during the answers and the audience attendees submitted other questions as well. Some personal.
Dino did asked me what kind of material I did in my comedy act…and I hesitated and then told him, he needed to come see me perform; and I left the audience with my blog URL and the address to my MYSPACE page and told them I would gladly accept them as a friend. YEAH, I got an ego!