- It's a Blog World After All: How companies such as Verizon, IBM, Microsoft are using blogs for knowledge management — and marketing
- Professionals, Publishing for the People: David Weinberger on how conversations within companies can scale globally
- Post(er) Boy: Robert Scoble's starter set of corporate blogging guidelines
- Best Blog Ever: How VH-1 leverages the Web to produce a TV show
- A Little Help from Your Friends: The state of online business networking
- Between the Lines: Six Degrees of Competition: Alison Overholt on the complicity and competition among social network software makers
- FC Now: Fast Company's team blog
In the months leading up to the debut of "Best Week Ever," a new show in VH-1's lineup that makes a nostalgic nod at our warp-speed culture, executive producer Fred Graver set up an internal blog. He hoped it would be a way for the show's writers to brainstorm commentary about the latest celebrity gaffes and quirky of-the-minute news.
But when the show launched in mid-January, he made the decision to open up the blog to the Internet. Just one week in, more than half the comments posted on the blog were coming from random stoppers-by, giving the writers ideas for show material.
Two months later, the blog has taken on a life of its own. Ninety-five other blogs link to it, and nearly every entry has multiple comments — not an easy feat in the blog world. An idea for a recent panelist — the show features culture mavens who comment on the week's events — came from an outside blog reader. And a surge of comments on a particular topic — the Quiznos sponge monkeys, for example — gives the writers reinforcement on what will do well on the show.
Even some of the inspiration for the show, says Graver, came from media and gossip blogs like Gawker.com. "A lot of what we're doing is basically grabbing as quickly as possible certain pop culture events and saying, 'What do we think about this?' " Graver says. "There are certain great blogs out there that do this all day long, every day."
So when it came time to launch the show, it made sense to involve the blog world, too. "The idea was that the audience would actually get to see our kind of haphazard way of putting the show together," Graver says. He adds: "It's like the big brainstorm that Ray Kroc had years ago when he opened McDonald's and said, 'People should be able to see our kitchen.' "
That openness, that see-into-our-kitchen transparency, is the scariest — and at the same time, one of the most intriguing — aspect of using blogs for business. Of course, most businesses aren't brainstorming about how to best comment on Britney Spears' back-up singers or how much Michael Jackson apparently likes KFC. Still, Graver thinks other businesses could benefit from brainstorming on blogs. Which ones? "For example, if you're McDonald's and you're playing around with the menu or you're trying to figure out how people feel. There's something transparent that's very appealing about [blogs]."
Maybe Graver can teach McDonald's something about transparency, too.
Keep up with "Best Week Ever" in the TV show's blog
A version of this article appeared in the Table of Contents - April 2004 issue of Fast Company magazine.