Shel Israel and Robert Scoble have posted a new chapter to the Red Couch, focusing on how trust in Microsoft is being built by the 1500 bloggers within the company forging a new corporate reputation quite different from the 'capitalism red in tooth and claw' epitomised by Messers Gates and Ballmer.
I'm encouraged that blogging is beginning to be seen as a tool in the trust armoury. I've written elsewhere in altfunction about how the 'regular and often' communication approach you see with blogging can build relationships with customers and other stakeholders in ways that the one off, often dreary annual CSR report cannot.
This is not to say that a blog will make you some kind of leader in CSR, a quick hit, a shortcut. It won't but it could effect a change in tone towards being more approachable, accountable and transparent. To work it needs performance. The problem is that many companies experiencing a trust discount are doing some great stuff on making their values matter, responding to social and environmental issues in their core products but are being let down in their communications. These are the people who should be exploring blogs and wikis; though not necessarily to run as 'CSR blogs'. Scoble advocates personal blogs as opposed to corporate blogs.
The blogs I like and trust are those associated with a person who you can get to know. In some cases, therefore, perhaps the CEO is the right person (I'd like to see Lord Browne blogging, or Arun Sarin, perhaps) in others it may be someone in marketing, or even those middle managers like Scoble.
It is less about who blogs, and more the fact that people can blog that matters. Just as corporate responsibility needs to be embraced throughout companies as core to business values if it is to reap the most potential, the attitude shift within business to reap the further benefit of blogging must be seen throughout a business.
Then hand in hand, the two can build trust.