MARKETING AND SALES STRATEGIES

Does Harvard Business School know what a blog is?

UPDATE: On the same day I wrote this post, Paul Michelman, the director of content for Harvard Business Digital commented. If you find this post interesting, please be sure to read Paul's comment and my reply to it.

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My friend Ron Miller points me to an open job at Harvard Business School Publishing posted on Craig's List. The part-time job is for a Freelance Blog Editor.

Harvbuspub

To paraphrase from the about page, Harvard Business School Publishing (HBSP) is s a not-for-profit, wholly-owned subsidiary of Harvard University serving as a bridge between academia and enterprises around the globe through its publications such as the Harvard Business Review magazine.

The first paragraph of the job description seems innocent enough: "The blog editor ensures that all content published in the Harvard Business blog network is Web-ready, takes advantage of all available blog functionality, and is error free." OK, I guess I understand most of that. Make sure it looks good. Not sure about the error free part though. Fixing "errors" quickly evolves into control in my experience.

But then, this: "This assistant-editor level role will serve as the principal proofreader of Harvard Business blog content. He or she will also embed appropriate internal and external links, add graphics as appropriate, format blog content for maximum readability, and suggest headlines. The assistant editor will work closely with internal Harvard Business editors and producers and occasionally with authors."

Perhaps I'm reading too much into this, but I want to shout: Harvard Business School doesn't know what a blog is!

In my opinion, the best blogs are unfiltered opinions of people who are passionate about a topic. As soon as an editor has the role of working on Harvard Business blog content as a "proofreader" and "embedding appropriate links" and "suggesting headlines" we're not talking about blogs. I think when an editor gets in the middle of an author and corporate content, you're talking propaganda. Yes, it's online content and yes it is still valuable, however (in my opinion) it's just not a blog.

By using blogs in this way, HBSP is teaching the large corporations that consume its products (such as Harvard Business Review) to think of blogs as just another tool of control-based, message-driven, nanny-state corporate communications.

What bothers me about this is that smarty-pants Harvard MBA types learn "how to do business" from Harvard Business School and its publishing arm. These people learn from HBSP that blogs are filtered, edited, sanitized propaganda and then when they graduate and become muckety-mucks at companies, they are the ones that put the brakes on corporate bloggers and force content through some centralized editing process within the "Public Relations" department.

And, in my experience, most (but not all) PR people at companies are nothing more than the corporate message control police.

Am I reading too much into this?

Disclosure: In 1989 I applied for admission to Harvard Business School. I was rejected. I consider this one of the most fortunate twists of fate in my career.

David Meerman Scott

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