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Blog refuseniks facing the sack?

Sony BMG UK adds blogging to the job description

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We've all heard about employees being sacked for blogging. But as the fad begins to wane, will staff soon be sacked for failing to blog?

Last week, Sony BMG UK issued a new corporate marketing strategy.

According to an official release from the group, Ged Doherty, chairman and chief executive of SonyBMG in UK and Ireland, said the company "has made it obligatory for all senior staff at both Columbia Records and RCA Records to start blogging actively".

So what happens to staff who refuse to toe the corporate line, or perhaps fail to produce the required quantity of blog blather?

We had to find out.

A spokesperson for SonyBMG told us "you won't be sacked for failing to blog", but added, rather ominously: "If you don't blog, it's going to be frowned upon. Ged has made it clear that staff are expected to blog and participate in the community. He sees it as part of people's jobs."

But what if you're in, say, accounts?

"It's more for staff in the creative areas of the company. It's unfair to insist someone in the royalty department dealing with the backend engage in this, but if you're a marketing peerson then you should."

It's an attempt by the group to rise to the challenge of MySpace, which allows fans to build direct relationships with their fans.

SonyBMG A&R staff will actively take part in two new communities, Columbia Demos and RCA Demos. SonyBMG's labels will not accept demo tapes as of today - but that's a bit like saying they won't accept payments in imperial Roman denari, either.

"No one ever got signed off CDs sent in to the record company - everyone knows that," said a spokesperson.

There are signs the corporate blogging mania - which has created a gravy train for marketing consultants - is finally on the wane.

According to analyst The Gartner Group, blogging peaked last October, and of the 100 million active bloggers manning the keyboards this year, the figure will eventually fall to 30 million.

The irony is delicious.

When blogging was first pitched to businesses it was sold as a way of "empowering" ordinary employees with "a voice". Consultants trumpeted it as a way of cutting out the PR and media and presenting a more "authentic" voice of the corporation. It was even hinted that blogging would weaken the power of the corporation itself. Now it appears that it's only the power of the corporation that can keep blogging alive.

So much for spontaneous outbreaks of "authentic" communication, as our SonyBMG spokesperson confessed: "I blog, but I would find it difficut to blog every day. And sometimes I write something and think, 'No, it's none of your business!'"

Fair enough. ®

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