The Pros and Cons of Business Blogging- Page 2

by Jean Van Rensselar

Continuation of Blogging Pros and Cons

(Continued from page 1)

Risks

Before you get too excited about benefits, here’s the ugly truth about risk.

We’ve all heard the same blog horror stories – trade secrets revealed, employees fired, nasty personal remarks, profanity, competitors using pseudonyms to post damaging content, etc. Are you afraid to create a blog? You should be.

Risks You Can Control

The art and science of blogging has evolved on the backs of other companies’ mistakes. You can avoid many of them if you do the following:

  1. Establish an ironclad blogging policy
  2. Educate ALL employees
  3. Enforce the policy
  4. Closely monitor the blog
  5. Respond quickly to negative comments
Internal blogs can waste employees’ valuable time.

There’s nothing iffy about the above five items. You either have an ironclad blogging policy or you don’t – you either have a schedule for monitoring the blog or you don’t. It’s all about attention to detail.



Risks You Can’t Always Control

You can control many – but definitely not all risks. Most of the uncontrollables involve legal risks that can never be eliminated. Only you can decide whether the benefit to your company of having a blog outweighs the exposure it creates. Risks include:

  1. Litigation Risks: Invasion or privacy, defamation, sexual harassment, creating a hostile work environment, copyright infringement, trade libel, federal securities fraud, etc.

  2. Security Violations: Transferring intellectual property, and revealing confidential (financial) information and trade secrets.

  3. E-Discovery Violations: Creating exposure to judicial sanctions by failing to retain records of all blog content

  4. Reputation Assaults: You can prescreen content manually or automatically with content management and aggregation tools, but much of what may cause you problems later will slip through.

  5. Regulatory Violations: The type of violation depends on your industry.

You’ve probably avoided creating a blog because of most, if not all, of the above issues. If you have no tolerance for loss of control – do not create a blog.

Other Issues to Consider

Blog Posts are Permanent

Inaccurate, incomplete, deliberately defamatory content, confidential information – once posted - lives forever on the Internet.

Blogs Take Time

It doesn’t cost much to initiate a blog, but it takes time to create posts and monitor content. In addition, internal blogs can waste employees’ valuable time.

Blogs Can Send Visitors Away from Your Site

In order to be friendly to search engines and the blogging community in general, blogs need to include links to other sites. If your blog is part of your company’s Web site, do you really want to send visitors away?

 * * *

Many companies rush to incorporate new technology because it’s – new - not because it makes sense for them.

If you create a blog, you will increase your SEO rank, you will attract media attention, and you will increase your leadership profile – especially if you’re among the first in your industry to have a blog. Beyond this, there are no guarantees of any benefits.

The risks, on the other hand, are all guaranteed.

Look for other marketing tools that will provide the same benefits without the risks. For example, if you’re interested in informing clients and prospects, consider a periodic e-mail campaign instead.

On the other hand, if you’re interested in brainstorming with customers in order to develop new products and services, there really is no substitute for a blog.

If you decide to go ahead, design security into the blog. At the very least, require full identifying information, a password, and include a legal disclaimer at the end of every page. Have your Web designer create the page, and then run it past your legal advisor before you publish anything.

Since you’ve judiciously waited this long to start a blog, here’s my one piece of advice – now that you know the benefits and risks, don’t create a blog unless:

  1. Your target demographic blogs regularly

  2. You see one or more clear benefits

  3. You are willing to set and reinforce policy, educate employees, and diligently monitor content

The bottom line? Blogs are great tools for a minority of businesses – yours may be one of them.

If not…DON”T CREATE A BLOG.

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About the Author

Jean Van Rensselar is the owner of Chicago-based Smart PR Communications, which specializes in public relations and communications strategy, creation, and implementation for small and mid-sized technical-oriented companies. You can reach her at Jean@SmartPRCommunications.com or 630-363-8081. 

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