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Lessons from the USS Nimitz #3: The power of complete openness

(This is part of a series of posts about my trip to the USS Nimitz with a group of bloggers. Guy Kawasaki tells the story best. Click the photos for close-ups.)

Charlene Li asks a fantastic question: Would you invite 16 bloggers to spend 24 hours with your company?

imageThe Navy gave us free reign to run around the U.S.S. Nimitz — during an actual battle exercise — and we were free to talk to anyone we wanted. We could go anywhere except the nuclear reactor room (which was fine with me).  After hours, our guides went to bed and let us hang out with the crew unsupervised. Most surprising, Rear Admiral John W. Miller, who commands the entire carrier strike group gave us 1 1/2 hours of open Q&A, and Captain Michael C. Manazir was dropping by throughout the visit.

What would happen at your company if you let 16 bloggers talk to anyone they wanted, including the CEO? (Besides needing to send an EMT to resuscitate the panicked PR team?)

  • Do you have a culture of openness and trust?
  • Do you have something to hide?
  • Do you trust your people to know what topics aren’t appropriate to talk about publicly?
  • Most important: Do your employees have the pride in their work necessary to happily represent you to the world?

Time and again, when companies open the door to bloggers they get good exposure, positive feelings, and open support. When companies shut the door, they create a suspicion that there is something fishy going on.

You should have a blogger day. Open the door and let them tour. Make new friends. The results will be all good.

If you want to radically reduce negative word of mouth, invite people in. Show your critics what you do and why you do it. Next time something goes wrong, you’ll have folks asking you questions and asking for your perspective instead of attacking.

Adam Moffat of Molson explains how to do it (come to our next BlogWell case studies conference June 23 in San Fran):

The big lesson: The more you get to know people, the more they like you.

Related posts from my fellow travelers:

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