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Dell Corporate Blog Answers

Gary Lerhaupt from Dell was kind enough to answer my corporate blogging survey today. Thanks Gary!

1) Why do you blog for your company?
We had been running public facing mailing lists for over 3 years (http://lists.us.dell.com) and decided we needed a more concrete place to make information available to our Linux customers. Since, as engineers, we were already communicating directly with customers through those lists, running a blog was the next logical step.

2) What goals did you set for the blog?
We knew the Linux community finds it highly valuable to interact directly so anything we could do to facilitate this was seen as a win-win for Dell, the Linux community and our customers. Our main goal was to be helpful and with Linux, blogging appears to be a natural fit.

3) How do you think your blog fits into your company's communications strategy?
Dell is all about being "direct". Having established ourselves in the marketplace by selling computers directly to our customers, blogging is an extension of this philosophy. Why go to a third party source to get your information on Dell and Linux when you can get it right from us, the people developing the products. Blogging is still relatively new at Dell and we evaluate each medium on a case-by-case basis, but for the Linux technical community it has been a great success.

4) Tell me about the publishing mechanics of your blog. How often do you publish? How do you decide what to publish? Any special publishing techniques?
When we've got something that's "blogworthy," we post it. There really isn't any concrete definition, but usually it relates to a fix or a helpful tool to improve the customer's deployment. We're also fond of showcasing work done by our customers (like http://linux.dell.com/blog/2004/03/17/#1413) which could be useful to other customers.

5) Who writes the blog? Who contributes to the blog on a regular basis?
While the Linux Engineering team maintains the blog, any person at Dell with Linux info is welcome to send us their scoop and have it posted under their name. Generally, though, there are a couple of us on the team that do most of the entries. We do a lot of great work here to ensure a good Linux experience on Dell systems for our customers, and we very much want to spread the blogging duties around to share our knowledge broadly.

6) Have you achieved your original communications goals?
Absolutely. For example, we had some professional photos taken of our new Enterprise Solutions labs (where tons of Linux work happens), and previously, there never would have been a practical way to showcase these to our average Joe Linux user. With the blog we were able to post an entry (http://linux.dell.com/blog/2004/05/27/#1033) and share this with whomever was interested.

7) Were there any unexpected communications or learning consequences as a result of publishing your blog?
Not really. We're just glad that people responded positively to it and find it useful.

8) How have you built better relationships with customers?
Like I said earlier, we really wanted to create less formal repository to help people run Linux on Dell. Before the blog and the http://linux.dell.com site, this information was not as consolidated at Dell and confined mainly to our mailing lists. Having the website and blog really make things much easier for our customers to find what they need.

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