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Rubbermaid – A Corporate Blog that Organizes The World

The company Rubbermaid imagename Newell Rubbermaid has a long history, and although Rubbermaid is most familiar to me the careful observer should look at Newell to understand the background to the current company. Newell started in the early 20th century; expanding from a manufacturer of curtain rods to a multi consumer products company with six to seven billion in sales. Newell acquired Rubbermaid in 1999; and according to this 2003 Business Week article the merger was not as successful as it could have been.

Rubbermaid’s Business Blog

JimDeitzelProfilePic-2-tight Jim Deitzel from Newell Rubbermaid kindly agreed to help with this case study on the Rubbermaid blog. I interviewed Jim recently for the review, and Jim gave his own assessment of his blog using the criteria developed on the business and blogging site.

John: What is the background to the blog? How did the blog start?

Jim: We started thinking about the blog early in February of this year. We’d been writing a lot of content on our website, and wanted to add the ability to comment on those articles. From a technology perspective we were not able to allow comments on our existing website. We decided to use a blogging platform, and set up a TypePad account, which allowed for commenting.

By moving to a new blogging platform, we started thinking about the voice of the content. The website had very well written content, but very formal, now that we had the different platform that was not on our website, we could change our tone; it was not a super conscious decision to change the tone, rather an evolution. Our blog is about Rubbermaid, the people who use our products. We attempt to let the voice of the people come through.

A number of people are set up to write, but only a handful of people who actually write. All the blog authors are employees. When we started we had four posts written by an outside writer, who was not an employee, but a partner who writes for Rubbermaid on our website. They don’t contribute to the blog anymore; instead we decided to use employees of Rubbermaid.

John: How did you decide who would write on the blog.

Jim: We chose people within the communications group, whether they wanted to or not . Once they started writing they ended up catching the blogging bug.

The content on the blog attempts to show the process of how you can get organized at home. Much of the voice on the blog is my voice, and a handful of other contributors write. Some of the posts have included “how I organize my jewelry?” One person came in and organized the break room and we wrote about that process. It has been a very organic process. We’ve really tried to listen to consumers and professional organizers. They are as much a part of this as we are.

John: What’s the background to Rubbermaid?

Jim: We make a huge range of products, for in the home. Our core belief is that we make products to help you in the organizing process.

John: Who is your audience?

Jim: We’ve reached out to professional organizers. Lots of people think about storage, how you get organized is important.

John: How did you reach out to professional organizer?

Jim: We started looking for them in social media; a lot of organizers had blogs and twitter accounts. There is a national association, NAPO or the National Association of Professional Organizers. The organizers are very savvy, they have blogs, and twitter. I started adding comments on organizer blogs, and following them on twitter. However, the real spark that ignited the relationship with the organizer community was when I wrote a post that described all of the professional organizers that I am following on twitter, all of a sudden the professional organizers got very excited, and as the organizer community had not realized how many professional organizers were out there using social media. I am now part of the community and have many conversations with members of the community, I have phone calls with them, and I am even going to the national convention.

John: Would you describe some of the content on the blog?

Jim: In September, I was organizing my pantry, and so I wrote a post about organizing my pantry. As I was organizing, the professional organizer community would give me some tips, and ideas. When wrote a blog post about the organization of my pantry at home, I showcased the results based on those ideas and tips. We are now doing q&a’s with professional organizers on the blog. The questions are about how they organize.

John: Is your progress with personal and office organization part of the voice of the blog?

Jim: Yes, the blog is a lot about me getting organized. Even though I am employed by Rubbermaid; it is really about me getting organized as a consumer, I am showing the reader if I can do it you can do it. We have had some posts, where we will show consumers getting organized, we have competitions, and awards, consumers sends me pictures, both the before and after getting organized pictures.

Corporate Blog Review

Jim used the Business and Blogging approach for reviewing corporate blogs for his review of the Rubbermaid blog Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki.

On a scale of 1-10:

Ease of finding: 5 - Finding the blog on the main site could be better, it is available, and we are redesigning the site. Links to the blog are clicked, the blog ranks up pretty high on Google. Now that the blog is a success it became easier to incorporate the blog on the main site.

Frequency: 7 - We have a frequency that’s appropriate for our audience, one or two posts a week, there are people who blog or tweet too much, rather we were aiming for content that’s something of value to read.

Engaging Writing: 9 - Most of the content is very engaging, whether people are commenting on the blog, or offline content.

Relevant: 10 – The blog does speak to our two core audiences, professional organizers and consumers, the blog’s message is very relevant: You too can get organized.

Focused: 7 – Sometimes we are a little unfocused, an example of this is the scavenger hunt we recently ran.

Honest: 10 – I even dare to post pictures of disaster at my home, and we post the q&a links, also we don’t have any problem linking out to other blogs.

Social Interaction Design (Interactive): 6 – We have designed a good way for people to interact, by using the blog, flickr, YouTube, Twitter. In fact between the blog and twitter, those two things work hand in hand; I cannot imagine any two better social media tools.

Responsive: Between 5-8 - We will respond within minutes once we receive a notification that you have posted something on the web. On the weekends I check for comments, during the work week, I’d even rate us a 10. I review every single blog comment, and use Tweetdeck in twitter to follow the organizer community on Twitter.

Rating & Answers To Final Social Media Questions

Jim rated his blog with 59 out of 80. That’s quite a good rating. I also asked Jim some follow up questions about the organization of his social media efforts.

John: Stowe Boyd wrote a post about the ratio of posts to comments and trackbacks, where he described the conversational index, a ratio of blog comments and trackbacks to posts, once a blog hits parity between conversation and posts, Stowe believes the blog is active. Jim, what about the Rubbermaid blog, what's the ratio?

Jim: Not a lot of trackbacks, only one, not many people are using the trackback feature. Not sure why. We have about 100 comments, and 90 posts.

John: Are you using automated monitoring tools for monitoring the web?

Jim: Other than Google alerts we don’t use any monitoring tools. Monitoring is something we are considering.

John: Are you using sentiment to categorize posts?  

Jim: We don’t.

John's Final Thoughts

This has been my second review of a Fortune 500 corporate blog by asking the corporate blogger to give a review of their blog. The first was the Oracle review.

I think Jim gave a pretty fair review of this blog and social media efforts, I may have given a higher rating because of his response to people in his community using comment outreach and twitter.

Thanks Jim for the interview and review!