In the week since the official [announcement ](http://blogcouncil.org/pressrelease1.php)of the formation of a Blog Council, a group with representatives from 12 major corporations involved in blogging and social media (including Dell, Coca-Cola, General Motors and Microsoft), dozens of bloggers have responded—many of them negatively. Not since the Nikon’s controversial blogger camera giveaway has a single issue ignited such a widespread response, perhaps due to the rather high profile of the participating companies and the perceived exclusivity of the group.
Following last week’s announcement, A-list bloggers [Robert Scoble](http://scobleizer.com/2007/12/06/will-new-blog-council-help-big-companies-get-small-conversations/) and [Jeff Jarvis](http://www.buzzmachine.com/2007/12/09/its-not-the-blog/) both expressed skepticism that the idea would fly, and were followed shortly by many others, with criticism about everything from the social media participation of the companies involved to the organization’s [name](http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/06/the-blog-council-bad-or-inspired-idea/). Scoble, in particular, was concerned that if large corporations were already having a hard time grasping the concept of social media, “hanging out at yet another boring industry conference is going to help them to get it.” Jarvis wondered if by focusing on blogs alone, the companies were on the wrong path, no matter how good their intentions. He argued that the goal of big companies in social media shouldn’t simply be successful blogs, but conversation with their target audience.
“It’s not about them writing blog posts,” Jarvis claimed in his blog. “It as much about them reading everybody else’s blog posts. And, besides, there are all kinds of new tools for the conversation: Twitter, Pownce, YouTube, Facebook, Dell’s IdeaStorm, and more being invented in dorm rooms coast-to-coast.” Noted PR blogger [Brian Solis](http://www.briansolis.com/2007/12/blog-council-intentions-vs-execution.html) supported this idea, arguing that by focusing on blogs, companies were missing the bigger picture. He questioned whether a new council would be formed for every aspect of social media, such as a “Viral Media Council.”
Aside from its blog-specific focus, bloggers also took issue with the Blog Council’s stated goals. In their press release announcing the formation of the group, the Council pointed out that due to the specific challenges large companies face when engaging in the blogosphere, part of their goal includes creating best practices guidelines. This bit of news set some bloggers off, as some wondered about the quality of such guidelines and to whom specifically they would apply.
Author and PR blogger Geoff Livingston was cautious in his criticism, as he hoped on his
After a week spent dealing with a barrage of criticism, Blog Council CEO Andy Sernovitz, in an interview with Media Bullseye, says that the response to the Council thus far has been surprising. “There has been a widespread misunderstanding of the goals of this group,” he argues. “The group is made of people who get it, and are as into social media as [the critics].” Sernovitz claims that much of the criticism of the Council is speculative, and not based on anything the group has actually announced officially or planned. “So far, all we’ve done is announce that we exist,” he states.
“We have a simple mission,” Sernovitz continued. “Large companies face unique issues when dealing with social media, our goal is to work together as a group to discuss the best ways to address those issues.” Sernovitz says the group will attempt to meet its goals with regular meetings, online discussions, and weekly phone calls, but has no plans to issue a set of guidelines or an official best practices document.
“We never said we were setting rules for all corporate blogs, we aren’t even setting official rules for our members,” Sernovitz states. As far as criticism of the name goes, he points out that critics may be reading too much into it. “Any group whose purpose is idea sharing might call themselves a council, and that’s all we are. A group interested in open and free blogging inside a corporate environment.”
Despite what Shel Israel is [calling ](http://redcouch.typepad.com/weblog/2007/12/blog-council-st.html)a rather “inauspicious start” to its existence, there are some bloggers in support of what the council is trying to accomplish. Israel, who co-wrote the widely regarded book “Naked Conversations” with Robert Scoble, thinks that while some of the criticism for the council is warranted, he is hopeful for its future and thinks it may be misunderstood. “They need to address complex and tedious issues such as the rewriting of employee guidelines, redefinition of proprietary; decentralization of message, and ones I don’t even know about,” he writes. Defending the exclusivity of the group, he argues that “they need to have some of these discussions, some of the time behind closed doors.”
Media Bullseye will continue to cover the Blog Council and the blogosphere conversation about the group, a conversation in which Sernovitz hopes the Council can participate. In his response to Paul Gillin’s supportive blog [post](http://www.paulgillin.com/2007/12/corporate-blog-council-should-swallow.html), he notes that “we tried to start a conversation. We only got to ‘Hello’ before we were shouted down and told we had no place in the conversation. Conversations take two sides. We’ll say hello again and start fresh.”