Jagoda Poropat Darrer : Corporate Blogging

As a genre of computer-mediated communication, corporate blog represents a unique tool of transmitting company’s stories as well as creating new social realities.

Blogs as a confessional and epistolary type of communication has redrawn the line between the private and the public dimensions of our lives. The blog is a new rhetorical opportunity, made possible by technology that is becoming more available and easier to use, but it was adopted so quickly and widely that it must be serving well established rhetorical needs. Some questions arise as Miller and Shepard (2004) notice: why did blogging catch on so quickly and so widely? What motivates someone to begin–and continue–a blog? What audience(s) do bloggers address? Who reads blogs and why? In short, what rhetorical work do blogs perform, and for whom? And how do blogs perform this work? What features and elements make the blog recognizable and functional? To answer those questions the primarily task is to establish which genre do blog belong. Genre analysis has become important in understanding the discourse of the disciplines and the workplace, relatively structured arenas of social interaction in which, as Berkenkotter and Huckin (1995) note that genres are the intellectual scaffolds on which community-based knowledge is constructed.

Miller and Shepard (2004) define a blog as a genre that addresses a timeless rhetorical exigence in ways that are specific to its time. In the blog, the potentialities of technology, a set of cultural patterns, rhetorical conventions available in antecedent genres, and the history of the subject have combined to produce a recurrent rhetorical motive that has found a conventional mode of expression. Blog is an evolutionary product, as further state Miller and Shepard (2004), arising from a dynamic, adaptive relationship between discourse and Kairos, then if we wish to understand the rhetorical qualities of the blog as genre, we should examine the late 1990s, when the blog originated, as a cultural moment. By the year 2000, 98% of American households owned a television, according to a Nielsen Media Research survey and by 1999, over a third of all American households had a computer, and over half of those homes had Internet access. Within two years, half of all households had a computer, and Internet access had increased to 80% of those (Newburger, 2001). A search of the Lexis-Nexis database shows the first press mention in 1998, and by 2002 over five hundred articles referencing blogs. It appears that blogs originated to share information of interest. These early blogs had three primary features: they were chronologically organized, contained links to sites of interest on the web, and provided commentary on the links. This confusion of public and private permeated other media in the late 1990s as well. Cell phone ownership increased rapidly from 5.2 million in 1990 to 55 million in 1997 (Eng, 2002). As people sacrifice privacy for the sake of convenience, one need but visit any public place to overhear the intensely personal conversations of total strangers on cell phones.

Corporate blog performs a typified social action. As Miller and Shepard (2004) state, disclosure, however, should not be understood as the simple unveiling of a pre-existent or perdurable self, but rather as a constitutive effort. The importance of disclosure as a rhetoric strategy as well as a management tool explained Poropat Darrer (2019). The self that is “disclosed” is a construction, possibly an experimental one, which takes shape as a particular rhetorical subject-position. In a blog, that construction is an ongoing event, the self being disclosed a continual achievement. Self-expression is a salient theme among some bloggers, who find the same opportunity that television talk shows afford their participants: the opportunity to tell their stories in a mediated forum to a potentially large, though distant and invisible, audience. Bloggers mark both their linking and their commentary as means of self-expression: as ways to foster “a unique voice, a definite attitude, a clearer motivation”(Graham, 2002).

Corporate blog could be classified in several subgenres: product blog, image blog, executive blog, employee blogs as blog hubs. Perceived advantages of running a blog are many. While the goal of connecting more effectively with outside stakeholders (existing and potential customers and staff, investors, policymakers, activists, interest groups) is apparent, Hagenhjoff et al. (2010) state that the exact motivations are varied and depend crucially on the target audience, communicative goals and on how the individual company conceptualizes blogging. Zerfaß (2005) emphasizes that a clear strategic objective is required for a company blog. Thus, while private ego blogs can be characterized by the lack of a fixed external purpose, corporate blogs are not viable without explicit and stable communicative goals. It must be clear who is communicating, who is addressed and how the communication is conducted, but the stability of these factors is undermined in blogging, since anyone can blog, anyone can potentially be the reader of a blog and the content and style of corporate blogs is largely in the hands of individual employees who may in no way be prepared to achieve strategic objectives through blogging.