Friday, April 07, 2006

Corporate Blogs A Liability?

Talk about hitting the nail on the head! This is dead on.

I found this on the website of Pinsent Masons, an international IT law firm located in the UK. Their site is Out-Law.com. I was about to give up because, well, it was an article written by a lawyer about the dangers of corporate blogging. The author, Struan Robertson, even admitted that he was "scaremongering to some extent" about the potential dangers of a business blog. Just as I was about to give up on him (I'm not a fan of lawyers blogging because of their tendancy to say nothing of substance in as many words as possible), when he wrote this:
Businesses have always trusted their staff to communicate with customers. Corporate blogging is just another channel for communication. What matters is that, if employers embrace it, they must do so with their eyes wide open.

Good blogs bring out a personality. They need spontaneity and oxygen, not censorship – which means keeping legal and marketing departments at arm’s length. That is possible, despite the risks. However, staff should still follow a blogging policy. This can be standalone or part of a wider communications policy. Keep it simple and make sure people know about it. Set out the rules: when they can blog, what they can say, what they shouldn't say, what happens if they break the rules. And don't allow everyone to blog. You need to trust your blogger.

Choosing the right blogger is vital, but I don't just say that because I'm a lawyer. I say it as someone who has been using the internet as a shop window for an organisation for the last six years. Sadly, most people can’t write compelling material; and the people with the most interesting things to say are often the people with the least time to say them. Blogs are easy to start and difficult to maintain. So the biggest obstacle to corporate blogging is not the law; it's finding good bloggers.
I was stunned. This is as well-stated as I've seen anywhere. I'm going to have to re-evaluate my opinion of lawyers - at least this one.

So if your company is tossing around the idea of blogging, take his advice. It's not a legal issue, it's a content issue.

Bully, Struan! Maybe the best analysis I've seen this year. ghostblogging@veritymedia.com.

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