Businesses go blogging

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 at 1:00am

Chris Nelson knows he's got it made.

He just started a new job. His duties: Watch The Dukes of Hazzard on Country Music Television and write a Web log about the program for one year.

For a hardcore Dukes fan like Nelson, that might be enough to make his days pretty great. But the deal gets even sweeter as the New York City resident can watch his favorite show every day and get paid $100,000 to do it.

"It's the best job I've ever had," Nelson said. "No complaints from this end."

Nashville-based CMT hired Nelson as part of its promotions for The Dukes of Hazzard's return to television. To connect with long-time Dukes enthusiasts and attract new fans, CMT started a Web log, or blog - www.cmtdukesinstitute.com - to extend "voice and venue" to fans, said Andrew Holeman, CMT's vice president of marketing.

"This was a great way to connect and engage all of these long-standing hardcore fans, and a place for new fans to go," Holeman said.

While not necessarily as glamorous as CMT's blogging promotion, other Nashville companies are also either hiring full-time bloggers or creating avenues for their employees to share opinions via the company's Web site.

The move is about image. The companies hope to create a sense of community and interaction between them and the general public.

Gabe Wicks, vice president of design and multimedia for Thomas Nelson Publishers, said creating a greater sense of community is the goal behind the company's recent launch of their corporate blog, blogs.thomasnelson.com.

"Our goal is to really open that window on how we do business," Wicks said. "It's really just [a matter of pulling] back the shades, and if we want to talk about how we're doing our jobs, it's going to be out there for the world to see."

As Wicks said, many examples of corporate blogging in Nashville center on open communication and dialogue.

Thomas Nelson allows its employees to create their own blogs and then link them to its Web site, which aggregates and displays their material.

WKRN-TV, Ch. 2 recently hired a full-time blogger named Brittney Gilbert. Gilbert operates www.nashvilleistalking.com for WKRN and often cites other Nashville bloggers when discussing the issues of the day or random topics.

This past spring, corporate blogging extended into government. The state of Pennsylvania hired six bloggers to travel the state and write about their experiences on the state's tourism Web site, www.visitpa.com.

"It's about a very direct brand of consumer connection," CMT's Holeman said. "At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is communicate a message that's relevant directly to the consumer

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