In another example of how businesses are exploring the use of blogs to promote themselves, HighBeam Research has hired Weblogger and Internet personality Christopher Locke to tout its soon-to-be-unveiled blog content tool via a new Web site, ChiefBloggingOfficer.com.
The Chicago-based company selected Locke as a colorful way of drawing attention to its new tool, which will offer bloggers a subscription to access to its content archive of 33 million articles. He will be paid an undisclosed amount to recruit and oversee a "crack team" of a few dozen high-profile bloggers who will use the HighBeam tool on their own sites as the company completes beta-testing of the product. ChiefBloggingOfficer.com already features HighBeam advertisements and search windows on every page. Communication technology player Marqui has kicked off a similar effort in conjunction with Macromedia co-founder and well-known blogger Marc Canter.
"We've hired Chris on a 3-month consulting basis to really show bloggers of all types different ways to use HighBeam's content on their blogs," said Kathy Greenler Sexton, HighBeam's chief marketing officer.
HighBeam's full text articles are usually available only to members with a paid subscription, but bloggers using the company's new tool will be able to offer readers time-limited free access to such content. The Wall Street Journal Online has a similar feature, letting non-subscribers access one free story a day.
The customizable blog tool is the latest in HighBeam's product suite, which includes advanced online searching options, email alerts and article folders, and may be of interest to Web loggers that link to a variety of articles on a regular basis.
The author of "The Cluetrain Manifesto" and "Gonzo Marketing", Locke has made a career of hyping and dissecting how to leverage the resources of the Internet for the purposes of both business success and, in his own words, "shameless self-promotion."
"What I'm doing is demonstrating the breadth and depth of the content," Locke said in a telephone interview about his new responsibilities with HighBeam.
The brainchild of its Chairman and CEO Patrick Spain, HighBeam is the amalgamation of 3 prominent acquisitions in the last 28 months: including paid content sites eLibrary and Encyclopedia.com; and Researchville.com, a meta-search site that allowed users to search multiple engines simultaneously. Branding itself as a consumer-focused bridge between free search engines and high-end information services like Factiva.com, the company renamed itself HighBeam Research, LLC in January 2004.
With Locke and his crew of bloggers sending the word out into cyberspace, HighBeam plans to begin offering its new blog content tool as part of its full membership subscription product in late January or early February for $19.95 a month or $99 a year.
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