We noticed a story called Into the Wild Blog Yonder over on BusinessWeek Online, discussing Boeing’s smart deployments of blogs. we thought we’d interview D.L. Byron of Textura Design, who helped Boeing launch their blogs.
Byron was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about the work behind Boeing’s blogs, and we thought we’d share his answers with you.
Q: To get started, maybe you can describe your role in helping Boeing embrace blogs.
Byron: I’ve worked with Boeing after they intially launched the blog to help them make it more bloggy.
Q: “More bloggy”?
Byron: The first blog was a “pseudo”-blog, which is where the criticism [mentioned in the BusinessWeek story] came from. So they hired Textura Design to help them turn Randy’s Journal into a real blog. Later, we helped them with launching Flight Test Journal, and then we also worked with them on the IDS blog, an internal project which is discussed in the article.
Q: How was Flight Test Journal different from Randy’s Journal?
Byron: Flight Test was more casual and Boeing learned how compelling content drives traffic, as it was the people behind the planes, blogging about what they do and explaining how they test fly their jets. Lots of this stuff has never been discussed publicly.
Q: Okay, so Randy’s Journal is kind of the classic senior executive/thought leadership blog, Flight Test Journal was more of a first-person event blog around a specific project, and then IDS blogs are more of an intranet deployment.
Q: Is that what you see in your work in general, companies trying to use different types of blogs?
Byron: Yes, they’ll learn they’ve got to blog in different channels and also, most importantly that they can be nimble in the blogosphere.
Q: It seems like Boeing’s been very good at iterating, making lots of little improvements over time.
Byron: Exactly, and I think that’s the biggest lesson: Go out and get better.
<plug>And as we talk about that at length in our book
</plug>, blogs are meant to be iterative, updating, and changing, letting businesss quickly adapt, as opposed to being a monolith of a website.
Q: With three different types of blogs being created, what does your process look like from a technical/software standpoint?
Byron: Movable Type supported all of their needs and we developed the blogs to be modular. Once designed, new blogs can be easily rolled out.
Q: So you’re using Movable Type for all of the blogs, inside and outside the company?
Byron: Yes. We’ve also used TypePad for Connexion by Boeing. They’ve also embraced blogging via events like the Blog Business Summit, and sponsored blogs, and we rapidly prototyped blogs for them to review, test, and kick around, and then turned them into Movable Type blogs when it was show time.
Q: That’s very cool. We love to see people using the platforms together that way. We’ve tried to do a lot of work there to support people in the community who do deployments of blogs… you’re a Professional Network member, what’s your experience been like in working with Six Apart?
Byron: Six Apart has come a long way in supporting developers and maturing into like, an actual software company. When Boeing has some very specific configuration concerns, Six Apart was able to answer the questions and help us.
Q: That’s good to hear. Congratulations on the great coverage in Business Week… I know you’ve got a book on the way to plug, what do people need to know about your book and about Textura Design?
Byron: The book covers Boeing and the work we’ve done with them and much more of the business side of the blogosphere - and it’s a practical approach, where we’ve launched successful business blogs and share that knowledge with our clients and readers. I haven’t met any businessperson that doesn’t get blogs and their importance. What they’re looking for is the how of blogging and that’s what we know.
Q: That’s great. So what do we have to look forward to next?
Byron: The next thing that we’re working with Boeing on is live commenting, outside the firewall and using Movable Type to do it. There’s also considerable fear about blogging as the BusinessWeek article notes and much of that has been caused by pundits. We tell clients and businesses to blog their own way and it’s ok; Our proof is Boeing. That’s what they did and it worked. And now they’re next revision of the blog, which will have live (but moderated) commenting and that’s a long way from launching a psuedo blog.
Thanks to Byron for his time, and visit the site for “Publish and Prosper”, the upcoming book by DL Byron and Steve Broback. The site includes free downloads of sample content as well as more information about the book. You can also find out about Byron’s work with Boeing first-hand at our Business Blogging Seminars, but both our New York and Los Angeles events are nearly sold out, so sign up now.