Monday, April 27, 2009

Griff Wigley on Leadership Blogging

by Maggie Montgomery

Last Thursday I attended a blogging workshop in Bemidji, sponsored by KAXE and Northern Community Internet dot org, and presented by Griff Wigley. Griff was an original founder of the groundbreaking Northfield Citizens Online in 1994, and currently manages Locally Grown Northfield. What follows are notes from his session. I hope they might de-mystify blogging and inspire you to blog! When you DO set up your blog, please add it to the blog roll on Northern Community Internet dot org.

About 70 people attended Griff Wigley’s northern Minnesota “Leadership Blogging Tour.” Some had blogged a lot and some had never blogged before. His presentation was about why and what to blog.

Griff told us that blogs are especially good for community leaders. “Blogs can be your bully pulpit, your platform…they allow you to strategically capture one or two interactions from your week as a story.” He explained that blogs have shelf life. They also have “permalinks,” which are specific, permanent web addresses.

Why blog?
1) Blogging allows you to engage in strategic storytelling in near real-time. You can use storytelling to illustrate your roles, values, mission, goals, strategies. What gets through to people? Stories! Simple stories that illustrate a point are best.
2) Blogging allows you to leverage your leadership activities (thinking, beliefs, problem solving, interactions) for greater time-saving influence. If you can set aside some time to blog, it may save you time later.
3) Blogging lets you bring a voice of authenticity and a measure of personality to a website.
4) A cluster of knowledgeable, motivated bloggers can sometimes be more informed than the media about a story, a company about its products, or government officials about an issue. Blogs can be an alternative to—and leverage with—existing media. Also, the act of blogging can help you think through the issues. When you’re called upon to speak in a committee or covered by a reporter you will sound more informed.

What to blog:
1) Recognize other people and organizations. Affirm them. Create a positive feedback loop.
2) Leverage your media diet. Share what you are reading/what you are learning from media.
3) Give perspective on a current problem. This is about credibility, transparency, explaining an error, how you or your organization handled a screw-up.
4) Chronicle your learning. Let others know how your thinking is changing, what you are reading or hearing.
5) Teach about the complexities of an issue.
6) Teach about a product, service, program or skip
7) Share your positions and opinions.
8) Share your mistakes and apologies
9) Your community activities
10) Use it to answer your email, especially when it is something that may be used more than once. Link to the blog. Say, “Here’s what I wrote about that.”

What NOT to blog:
1) The truth without a strategy or purpose (dirty laundry)
2) Anything that you wouldn’t say to a reporter
3) Something that is a conflict of interest
4) Personal conflicts—keep it policy oriented

A few other miscellaneous Griff Wigley comments:
Twitter is “micro-blogging.” It is handy for getting an “ambient awareness” of things going on online. You say “Oh.” That’s it.
“Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.” When you blog, you own the press!
“I’m a believer in civility. There are methods of dealing with people who aren’t civil” (on blog sites).
On the Northfield site, sarcasm is forbidden and you have to post comments or replies to people directly, using their first name. (“Daniel, I disagree with you because…”)
Some leaders are interested in blogging but are afraid of comments, at least while they are learning to blog. Start blogging and turn off the comments if that is a concern. You can turn them on later, when you feel more competent in the medium.

Finally, Griff said, “Go forth and blog!”
note: in the photo are Griff Wigley and Diane Pittman

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