Chronicles Of Prague / Part 6

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.

Again, the panel consisted of Dave Robison, yours truly; “IBOFightback” (David Steadson); Bridgett, “Tex”, “Big Apple”. and Quixtar’s own, Robin Luymes.

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 bloggging 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!

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About Dave Robison

Now Appearing in an Extended Engagement! Join Dave Robison as he takes you into his world and his daily life of reviving a stand-up comedy career. Prepare for side trips exploring Public Relations, marketing and business ethics. Enjoy some frequent detours describing his observations on life. Read the exploits of this self-proclaimed Renaissance-man and blooming blogger as you go On The Road With Dave. From Mobile, Alabama comes Dave Robison, a confessed Internet-aholic, middle-aged-married-man, who's generally a nice guy--he just has one or two issues. Stand-Up Comedy by Dave Robison is available for corporate events, college campuses, and nightclubs.
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17 Responses to Chronicles Of Prague / Part 6

  1. ONE MORE THING!!!

    ALL Alticor Quixtar and Amway Corporate Bloggers NEED NEED NEED to visit other blogs about their companies and COMMENT and join the discussion every once in a while.

    YES, it takes some time…but, it’s worth it!

  2. Bridgett says:

    Wasn’t there a question, towards the end, about bloggers and journalists? Something about if bloggers should be held with the same, something, can’t remember the word, as journalists?

    Maybe it was my parallel universe character who was asked this question.

    I think my parallel universe character said something about credibility and influence. That people, at first, will accept something as truth if it’s written on paper or on a computer screen, than they will if it’s said verbally. For whatever reason, the written word has instant credibility.

    But upon further investigation, the credibility of the journalist determines if his ‘story’ will stand the test of time. Same goes for bloggers.

    It’s about influence. And in order to have lasting influence, one must be credbile.

    So the question to ask is: does a particular “blogger” have credibility?

    Does anyone else remember this question or was I sleep-deprived and off in dreamland?

  3. Bridgett

    It was probably a Question #8 follow-up. You most likely are remembering it right. Just out of order, maybe.

  4. Robin says:

    Good recap Dave! And yes, Bridgett, you’re remembering correctly your comments regarding journalists vs. bloggers and how companies respond to them.

    As an extension on that topic, let me add a few words. When I joined Amway PR in 1991, one of the first duties I had was correspondence. Pretty much everything that was sent to the company and its top execs warranted response, and it was a great way to learn about the company.

    Fast forward to today. Whether or not the message comes in the “mail” or through other venues like email and blog posts and voice messages, the company should provide responses. The response doesn’t always have to provide the exact information sought by those posing the questions, but the company should be engaged in the conversation about its people, products, and practices.

    While we were pretty responsive to mail that came in to executives, we were not always responsive to what people were saying or asking online. I think we’re much more engaged today and, as a PR professional, that pleases me greatly. I’m Accredited in Public Relations by the PRSA, which describes PR as the profession charged with creating mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its key publics.

    Before blogs existed, it was difficult to have the necessary dialog. When blogs came into being, there was a period of fear and trepidation about having some of these tough conversations in such a public place. I give a lot of credit to certain senior executives and legal for allowing these discussions to happen because some of their concerns are quite valid.

    So, that’s a bit of a ramble about us and blogs. But it’s mostly all good.

    Oh, and one last little point of clarification. Attendees at the conference were PR/External Affairs staff from Amway affiliates around the globe, hosted by Alticor’s Corporate Communications group. That includes myself and Canada’s Angela Abdallah representing Quixtar, plus reps from Amway China, Amway Japan, Amway India, Amway Korea, Amway Europe, Amway Indonesia, Amway etc. etc. Your post made it sound like there were just Amway folk from Europe and China. The broader Asia region represents something like two-thirds of our overall volume (perhaps more?) and they were very well represented!

    Thanks Dave!

  5. Tex says:

    Dave, thanks for getting the questions. I recall there were one or two audience questions as well, I’m not sure if they are included in the below questions. As much as I can recall, my responses were:

    1. This is when the “No Tool Scam” sign came out, and I described how the business has been hijacked by the “kingpins” as a tool profit business, and A/Q as a secondary business. I mentioned Rich DeVos and the Directly Speaking recordings, and encouraged the attendees to listen/read them. I started blogging about 3 years ago to put an end to this bait-and-switch scam.

    2. I treat others as they treat me. When I started blogging, I soon found others were very nasty and had no interest in my ideas. After trying to stay “above the fray” for some time, it became apparent the only way to get my message out was to push back. I don’t insult anyone, but I do return insults, and I continue to do so until they apologize for the original insult. (However, since returning, I’ve agreed with Chuck Lia to be “nicer”, as he has indicated he will police his blog fairly with all bloggers.)

    3. I think I generally agreed with their approach.

    4. I responded blogging hasn’t made me a better person, it has revealed who I am, which is someone who wants to be treated with honesty in a business dealing, which has clearly NOT happened with the tool scam.

    5. I responded I do not participate much in these other venues, although upon reflection I have done some podcasts.

    6. I don’t recall responding to this question.

    7. No, but I believe I have caused a lot of tool scam money to NOT be made that otherwise would have been.

    8. I replied I don’t know, I would need to know how they treat reporters.

    9. Many companies have realized they need to pay attention to blogs, as this is a real impact on their reputation.

    10. Yes, but I don’t recall any further details.

    11. I responded yes, but only because he asked for a single word, I didn’t add this question is a bit like asking someone if they have stopped beating their wife. We have started the transformation, but have a long way to go.

  6. Porkchopjim says:

    On QBLOG since 1983? I know, it’s 2003 (or not…hmm…the vast critic conspiracy…).

  7. kathleen says:

    Good stuff, Dave! Sounds like a fantastic experience for you, the bloggers and especially for corporate. I’m glad to see you gave nod to Eric, who we all know was one of the biggest forces behind where the corporation stepping up their efforts to be more transparent, not to mention the strides they now seem to be taking toward making the business more profitable for “average” IBOs. Kudos to you and all those who have worked diligently to help make these things happen. It’s an incremental process, but I do see good things happening. My answer to the last question also is a qualified ‘yes.’

  8. kathleen says:

    Damn. An errant word there. But you get my gist. 🙂

  9. Joecool says:

    Tex, many people were interested in what you had to say about the tools scam, but you became overly redundant and redirected all discssion to the tools regardless of what topic was being discussed.

    Yes, the tools scam is a big issue but there are other ones out there and some people wish to discuss other issues.

  10. Bridgett says:

    1) I first started commenting to be heard by the Crop over at Opportunity Zone. And that’s still my main reason. Not really interested in trying to convince other IBOs or critics of anything. I think it’s a waste of my time. I’ve noticed that people are pretty set in their beliefs about this biz.
    And I’m not interested in trying to convince potential IBOs who are ”researching” this biz by reading blogs, how fabulous this biz is. Living with a former journalist for many years, (who was trained, “If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.” Only half-jokingly) I’ve been “trained” to really question the source.
    So why should anything that I type online be taken as Gospel when these potential IBOs have no clue who I am? My words, and other people’s words, may lead them to question things, which is good, but, there are enough people online giving them plenty to question. But if they end their questioning online with people they don’t know, then I think that’s retarded. So I don’t want to add to the retardation of the world.

    2) My “rule” is that I only type what I’d be willing to say to someone’s face, knowing that I would see that person over and over again.

    3) The company is Alticor. So regarding the Alticor Media Blog I think that it has gone through a metamorphosis from something for the media, to something for the public. And I do not think the company effectively has made that transition. There are things said on those comments, that I would not allow to be said in my home. It’s ugly.

    4) I don’t think blogging has made me a better person. In fact, I think my priorities need to get back in order…like not spending time online when my husband and children are playing the Memory Game (a REALLY cool wooden version, with beautiful and cute figures painted on the blocks, I bought in a little store near the Prague Castle) and with Lincoln Logs, like they are right now while I’m typing. 🙂

    5) My participation on other online venues I keep separate from my biz—MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, (and KodakGallery and You Tube to share pics and videos of the kids with friends and family).
    Actually, I’ve now got Corp. employees “stalking” me on Facebook and LinkedIn. 🙂 Keeping MySpace and Facebook updated is more work than I’m willing to put in. LinkedIn is much less maintenance. I don’t even remember my Facebook password.

    6) It would be nice to answer questions and participate rather than just be a facilitator. I think some of the bloggers over at Opportunity Zone do this well. But, maybe they can ‘cause of they don’t have Legal breathing down their necks like they do over at the Alticor Media Blog.

    7) Nope. Not even in Prague. I used the “stipend”–which is translation for a paltry sum of money– =) to pay for some childcare while I was away from home.
    Corp., thanks for flying me to Prague. No need to get bent out of shape at my ‘paltry sum’ comment. Okay? 😉

    8) Answered this in the beginning of this thread since I had read through the questions too fast and missed this one.

    9) I do not remember this question. If it was asked, it wasn’t to me, and I have no idea anyway. I don’t think I’m intelligent enough to answer, since I don’t even understand the question.

    10) I think blogging has changed EVERY industry. However, do I think that it’s as impactful as some people think? There is SO much information out there. And SO much indulgence. So many people saying, “Well I think this. And I think that.” I’ve gotten to a point where I’m like, “So what?”
    I read Dave’s blog and am willing to comment, because I met Dave in person.
    And the thought of starting a blog? Dave was trying to convince me to. I’m like, “Why? What is the point? Who cares what I have to say?”

    So with that, I’m going to join my husband and kids for a game of Go Fish before bedtime. 🙂

  11. Tex says:

    jc,

    As I’ve said many many many times, the tool scam is SO significant the rest of the issues pale in comparison. You can flap your gums all day long about the “other” issues (most of which are directly impacted by the tool scam, just name some if you don’t believe me, I’ll “connect the dots” for you), and you will make ZERO progress. THAT’S why I talk about the tool scam all the time, because I know what’s important and how to look at the big picture.

  12. Tex says:

    jc,

    Another idea you often forget is I don’t blog primarily for YOUR benefit, I do it for prospects and IBO’s who are not aware of the tool scam. Because the nature of blogs covers up this message with new entries, I repeat myself to keep the informtion “fresh”, as most visitors probably aren’t going to search an entire long thread.

    In other words, it’s not about you. Sorry to be the one who has to deliver this message, but not really.

  13. Joecool says:

    Tex, anyone who does due diligence about quixtar is going to come across the “tools scam”.

    I agree it’s important to inform prospects about it but there are other issues and merit discussion.

    Otherwise your blog only needs one post – the tools scam. If you prefer that, it’s certainly your right on your own blog.

    I prefer to post about other things as well. Some related to the tools scam, and some things not.

    BTW, did you enjoy spending time with insider?

  14. Tex says:

    I don’t think someone should have to do “due diligence” to learn about the tool scam. I think it should be obvious, as this is the only way the tool scam will go away.

    What other issues merit discussion?

    It’s not my blog, it’s a blog Dave set up for me.

    What other things do you post about that have nothing to do with the tool scam?

    I did not enjoy my time with insider. I found him as intellectually dishonest in person as on the blogs.

  15. Joecool says:

    Tex,

    I believe some issues are important to bring to the forefront, such as the number of diamonds quitting and being terminated.

    The bogus claims being made about perfect water.

    These issues can contribute to the demise of the corporation’s reputation and hurt potential recruiting.

    The tools scam is a major issue, on that I agree with you.

  16. Anna28 says:

    Sorry Dave, I just got to reading this now…things have been busy…but I wanted to say that I am happy that you were invited, Tex too…I don’t know the others to comment,but I think they should have left Insider in his hole…either way, I think that if they use the information they got from you, the corp can make some real changes as far as their online presence goes. Until I came across you, I was leary of just about all IBO’s…many are quick to get nasty as soon as they see I am a “critic”…you changed that. You are open and willing to answer questions, even from someone who has a different view than you…that goes a long long way!!!
    Thanks for taking the time to post the details of your trip!!!

  17. Dave Robison says:

    Hey it took more than a year, but I finally fixed a typo at this entry…

    Porkchopjim said…
    On QBLOG since 1983? I know, it’s 2003 (or not…hmm…the vast critic conspiracy…).

    I did mean 2003 and not 1983…you should notice a stylish “strikeout” of 1983 and 2003 has been inserted.

    Thanks “Porkchop” for the “heads up” way back then–sorry it took so long to correct.

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