February 23, 2018

Politics and Political Blogs

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Whatever your political persuasion — right, left, or center — the blogosphere is a great place for bloggers to share their political views and make plenty of friends and enemies. We try to follow the conservative, liberal, and everything in between of politics and political blogs/blogging — but only when it intersects with business blogging.

Have a read below of our latest entries on politics and political blogging…

Employee Blogs and the Law

In an article that’s sure to take the joy out of any blogging enterprise, Internet Business Law Services has posted Internet Law: Employee Blogs Pose Potential Problems for Businesses.

While I’m sure that a number of large businesses have experienced problems with employees’ blogs (the article references a few cases), maybe the first step a company should take when employees complain in their blog is to take their complaints seriously! (Of course, I run a small business; what do I know about keeping peons in their place?)

This article talks specifically about personal blogs that employees work on after hours (or perhaps when the boss isn’t looking.) They look at what happens when the employees blog about work, disparage co-workers, or share company secrets.
If you do run a large business, or you’ve given your employees good reason to despise you, the article does have some helpful hints on new entries for the employee handbook, like making sure employees who blog about work state that these are their own opinions and not that of the company, and not to reveal any trade secrets.

Unfortunately, the article doesn’t give any advice on keeping your employees happy, engaged, or giving them reasons to blog positive.

Blogging as a Marketing Tool – Ten Strategic Tips

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on 12/11/06

 Richard Nacht, president of Blogging Systems which specializes in blog strategies for the lending and real estate industries, has the following Top Ten strategic benefits of blogging,

  1. Search Engine Marketing
  2. Direct Communications
  3.  Brand Building
  4. Competitive Differentiation
  5. Relational Marketing
  6. Exploit the Niches
  7.  Media & Public Relations
  8. Position You as an Expert
  9. Reputation Management
  10.  Low Cost

Read more at the Daily ‘Dog

Viral Marketing with Blogs

Posted by: of Online Marketing Blog on 11/29/06

On my own blog, I’ve written several times lately on how blogs can be effective tools for viral marketing campaigns. One can look no further than the One Red Paperclip promotion for an example of how these kinds of viral campaigns using blogs can work.

A recent viral campaign using a blog that is under way now is My Super Proposal. This is about a guy, “JP” that is trying to catch the attention of a major advertiser to foot the bill for a commercial where he’ll propose to his girlfriend during the Super Bowl. Doritos and the NFL.com are currently running such contests. He’s staying somewhat anonymous so as not to tip off his girlfriend.

A blogger and search marketing friend of mine, Joe Morin has connected with JP to help him promote the site and get media coverage. More about how that all started here.

The blog started out asking for donations big and small in order to raise $2+ million for a Super Bowl commercial, but those ads are now all sold out. He did manage to raise $74k though, which if not spent on a commercial, will be donated to a children’s hospital.

This Super Bowl Proposal blog has been covered by the likes of AdRants & AdJab already and there’s even an interview with “JP� over at the Nashville City Paper. NPR and USA Today should be running stories soon along with some buzz within the blog and search marketing communities such as this post on the Search Engine Watch blog.

Should JP pull this off, or even get close, it promises to be one of the more creative ways to use a blog for viral marketing and hopefully make a young lady very happy.

Blog Inside: IT@Intel Joins the Blogosphere

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on 10/12/06

There is a new arrival on the corporate, indeed Fortune 500, blog scene – the IT@Intel Blog.

The site will probably not appeal to people who want the full array of possible effects – audio, video mashups etc. Because unlike the groovy, dancing main Intel site, the IT@Intel blog is visually and organizationally sparer, along the lines of the related IT@Intel web site.

The blog uses MovableType’s Enterprise 1.3 platform, but again the graphic presentation is quite unlike some other corporate blogs using MT Enterprise, such as the rather jazzy GM FastLane blog.

The appropriateness of the IT@Intel Blog’s very neat design becomes evident when you see that, although this is a public blog, it appears to be aimed not so much at the general public as at the IT community and people with related interests.

And although I am not an IT engineer, and I like my rococo in its place, for me the visual spareness of the blog’s layout reflects a pleasingly elegant clarity of architecture and navigation.

There is a simply stated manifesto of guiding principles:

  • We will provide unique, individual perspectives on what’s going on at Intel and in the world;
  • We will post comments, except for spam and remarks that are off-topic, denigrating or offensive;
  • We will reply to comments promptly, when appropriate;
  • We will respect proprietary information and confidentiality; and
  • We will be respectful when disagreeing with others’ opinions.

For anyone who thinks that’s a bit light on for a corporate blog, never fear. There is a more extended and decidedly heavier statement in the legal page, whose phrasing, with its caveats and warnings, reminds us that this blog is indeed a corporate one.

The neat architecture is expressed in the simplicity of layout. The navigation menu along the top has just five items, so whatever your interest in the blog you can find your way there quickly – no need for head-scratching:

  • Recent Posts
  • About the Blog
  • Meet the Bloggers
  • Archives
  • Contact us

And as indicated above, other than the almost monochrome banner there are no pictures, no audio, no videos.

One other comment on underlying concepts and architecture is that the URL structure, http://blogs.intel.com/it/, allows nicely for any number of additional blogs to be created within the Intel blogs framework. Admittedly that’s not a big revelation from an IT engineering-based company, but it is a handy reminder of the value of thinking through structure and architecture before launching any blog in the business space.

There are four bloggers listed and posting at the IT@Intel blog, enough presumably to spread the load but not so many as to make it a case of “everyone’s responsibility is no one’s”. All have titles that indicate a high, or reasonably high level of seniority in the corporation (I don’t know the corporate structure or Intel’s policy on titles). And all are apparently working in an IT engineering or user experience framework. No one from marketing.

It is noticeable that there are no buttons or icons, not even a modest orange button for XML/RSS.

I like the way they have set up the sidebar with six elements, each in its own text box: Most Popular Tags, Recent Comments, Most Active Posts, Blogroll, Related Links, and Subscribe.

The treatment of the tags is interesting – no cloud in the sidebar, just four tags and a link to All Tags for anyone who really needs a cloud to make their day. There are only seven blogs in the Blogroll (that would have been an interesting discussion to be a fly on the wall for, surely – who’s in, who’s out?), only six Related Links and a simple, linked list of basic feed options in the Subscribe box, including a “What are feeds?” text link to a clear explanation on a separate page.

And content? Style?

Early days, but I liked what I read. Four individuals, each with a different style and each evidently keen to make his (yes, all males) mark as a blogger.

But they might have to up their rate. Four posts on October 9 and, at this posting, none since, is not exactly off to the races, guys. But those four posts have already attracted a number of supportive comments. So I hope the bloggers are encouraged by that and produce more, and more frequent, posts.

Pickedup from a Techwhack story via Google Alerts.

RSS, Blogs Head Up Holiday Marketing Plans for Etailers

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on 10/6/06

Nearly two thirds of adults intend to do their holiday shopping online this year. Take a tip from the major eTailers’ marketing playbook:-blogs, RSS feeds and viral marketing are what you need to drive all those eager online shoppers to your site.

Nearly half, 41.6 percent, of retailers will incorporate blogs or RSS feeds into their holiday marketing strategy, and 79.5 percent will use viral marketing at social networking sites, like MySpace and Friendster, says the 2006 eHoliday Mood Survey released Wednesday. The study was conducted by BizRate Research for Shopzilla and Shop.org.

And don’t be misled by the perception that these sites are only for teens. More than half the visitors to MySpace are now 35 or over–up from less than 40 percent last year, reveals new data from comScore Media Metrix. 

Of course they have to find your website – so 97.4 percent of eTailers invest in search engine optimization and marketing.

Since shoppers show signs of starting their holiday spree early in November, now’s the time to get your blog and feeds up and running.  Plan a holiday content strategy and create RSS Feeds that will raise your search rankings and distribute your content into the news aggregator sites, making it easier for the online holiday shopper to find you.



Guidelines Needed for Government Employee Blogging

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on 09/18/06
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Virginia Department of Business Assistance employee and dedicated blogger, Will Vehrs got a good result last month from the Commonwealth’s Department of Employment Dispute Resolution. The severity of disciplinary action against him for some blogging activity was reduced and the ten days’ pay that had been docked was ordered to be restored.

The story in summary form is at Virginia’s Daily Press site in the article State worker suspended over blog comments wins grievance. That’s not a blog post so I’m not sure about the archiving, but the story is told also on Townhall.com.

The bigger story here is that as an outcome of these events we have a landmark decision by a government agency, about public sector employee blogging, in the published findings of the Virginia Department of Employment Dispute Resolution (EDR).

I am not a lawyer, but I have been a government executive and more recently a government sector consultant. I believe this document will prove very helpful to public service managers who take the time to read and ponder it, and to anyone who consults on blogging to government departments or agencies.

Not before time. Until now I have not been able to discover any really useful information, directly about government employee blogging, as distinct from coverage of general issues about employee blogging.

There are several well-cited codes or sets of guidelines on blogging by employees in the corporate sector, e.g. those from IBM, Sun Microsystems and Thomas Nelson. But to the best of my knowledge no one has yet produced a set of blogging guidelines for the public sector, or at least not so as to be readily accessible from an online search.

And my sense is that any public sector manager or blogging consultant asked right now to advise a government agency on, for example, blogging guidelines for employees, would have to cobble something together from the various corporate sector guidelines and codes of blogging conduct.

That would be better than nothing, but might not be enough to provide guidelines adequate to the challenge. Or at least might not be enough to satisfy the client that every area of risk or uncertainty has been covered adequately and in language that speaks to the government employment context.

There is also the issue of workable guidelines being developed for individual agencies, which, it could be inferred from the EDR decision, may be acting less than prudently in relying on blanket guidelines established on a ‘whole of government’ basis.

A related issue is that if a government agency permits (or encourages) employees to blog, there could be a need for some quantification of what constitutes acceptable use of ‘on the job’ time. As the EDR decision makes clear, one of the limitations on Virginia Department of Business Assistance (VDBA) managers’ ability to discipline employees over blogging was that the applicable policy, i.e. the Commonwealth’s policy on Internet usage, allowed for ‘incidental and occasional personal use’ of the Commonwealth’s internet access, but did not attempt to quantify that.

Nor, it seems, is a ‘common sense’ approach going to be necessarily adequate in itself. In Will Vehr’s case, the supervisor counseled him about use of the weblog, warning that he would have to be careful not to ‘cross the line’, to be careful about the frequency and content of his commentary, to use good judgment and make sure his commenting did not become a distraction. Those principles are pretty much in line with the various corporate guidelines, such as those mentioned above. But once a media storm blew up and politicians and community members got involved, the principles were not enough in themselves to enable the supervisor to discipline Vehrs in such a way that the action would hold up under the scrutiny of a grievance procedure.

An interesting side issue is that although Vehrs had a disclaimer posted on the blog stating that the views he expressed were his own, EDR found that the posting of the disclaimer was “not sufficient to insulate him from violation of the policy (that he was required to state that his communications were personal and not a ‘communication of the agency or the Commonwealth’)”. Which raises the question of what would constitute a disclaimer adequate for the purpose.

According to reports, such as that on the Townhall.com site, the VDBA’s solution to these interesting challenges to public administration has been fairly basic – ban blogging. Presumably that means blogging on the taxpayer’s time. Nothing is said in the reports I’ve seen about guidance on private blogging by a state employee, where similar guidelines surely need to be established as are included in corporate sector guidelines cited above.

A ban is not a policy. And while understandable in the circumstances, that outcome is not helpful for those of us who might be interested in seeing how a government agency would go about adopting a more nuanced policy approach.

So in the absence of such an approach and drawing on the EDR findings, here are some key points I would be looking to include in any set of guidelines for government sector blogging, in addition to principles already established for the corporate sector:

  • quantify what would constitute an acceptable – not necessarily recommended – upper limit of time over a given week for personal use of the employer’s internet access, on the employer’s time, for blogging
  • with due consideration to privacy issues, establish logging and archiving arrangements adequate to provide objective evidence of time spent in blogging, to assist in resolving any future dispute
  • advise employees fully, in writing, of any applicable law, overall service guidelines and any specific governmental, departmental, agency or unit guidelines
  • advise employees of the need to provide disclaimers in a prominent way, so that readers of their blog posts or comments understand that ‘their views are their own’
  • provide managers with appropriate guidance and training in their supervisory role regarding employee blogging and specifically on the need to be able to provide objective evidence of any alleged breach of guidelines, before proceeding to disciplinary action

I’m sure there are more principles and refinements to be included in any comprehensive set of blogging guidelines for government employees. On the other hand, I expect that some bloggers will regard even what I’m proposing here as unduly restrictive or onerous.

But whatever guidelines eventually emerge, public sector managers, and consultants advising the public sector, have reason to be grateful to Mr Vehrs for having taken his grievance to EDR, and grateful to that Department for publishing its decision online.

Blogs, Podcasts, RSS and B2B: New Research Study Available

KnowledgeStorm and Universal McCann have begun to release an emerging media series study into how blogs, podcasts and other RSS technologies affect technology purchasing decisions.

So far only the podcasting study has been released (free with registration), but they’ve released some teaser factoids:

  • 53% of respondants get business and technology information from blogs
  • 59% of business and IT professionals are somewhat or very familiar with RSS
  • 70% pass along content from blogs

Of course, they don’t go into detail (at least yet) on whether these people are making a buying decision on what they read at Engadget, or whether an RSS feed is helping them choose the right server or keeping them up with last night’s episode of Lost.

You can read the abstract and register for the free report here.

Thanks to Media Buyer Planner for the link.

“Blogger and Podcaster” magazine? Huh?

Okay, so I’m more than a bit puzzled to learn about a new print magazine being launched in January, Blogger and Podcaster. But not because of the fact that it’s a magazine because I get a number of magazines about Internet-related topics, including webmaster publications and, heck, I’m a contributor to the affiliate marketing magazine Revenue.

What baffles me is that it’s an online only magazine, what they’re calling a “digital form only” publication.

Now think about this. The publisher, Larstan Publishing, is focused on blogging, but instead of creating a blog with advertising to address this market, they’re doing a “digital form only” trade magazine that I’m sure will be just a monster PDF emailed to subscribers monthly.

From the world of traditional publishing, this probably makes some modicum of sense. After all, you can hire sales managers from other magazines, people experienced in the world of print. I’ve been involved with print publications for decades now, and have spent many an hour [drinking beer] with ad sales people, so I know this perspective well.

From the perspective of us already mired in the world of blogging, however, a once-monthly PDF email is about the most brain-dead solution a company could use when addressing this market. Successfully tapping into the blogging zeitgeist, if you will, is all about timeliness, fluidity and being assimilated by the blogosphere. Or, heck, putting it all in print and having a print magazine that we can touch, a la WIRED.

Is there anyone out there who can explain to me the logic behind Larstan’s plan with its “digital form” magazine for the blogosphere and world of podcasters and how it makes any sense at all?

My prediction: this project will die a painful death and “Blogger and Podcaster” will be gone within four issues.

What do you think?

Will bloggers write about stuff you send us?

As bloggers and blogging has raised its visibility in the media landscape, and as us bloggers have become thought and opinion leaders, to a greater or lesser extent, it should be no surprise that we’re smack-dab in the middle of the radar screen for Public Relations firms and individual companies seeking to gain “buzz” or visibility for their products or services.

What clearly isn’t quite so obvious, however, is how to approach bloggers when you want to send them something to check out. Do you explicitly say “do you want to review this” or, even more blatantly, “will you say nice things about it if we send you one?” or is there a more subtle road you can travel, one that’s more akin to “thought you’d find this cool. Want one?” without any expressed desire to have one of us actually write about it?

I would suggest that it’s an unsolved puzzle and that when I was approached by a company that sells high-tech bean bag chairs to see if I’d like to review one, this all came to the fore because, well, because I’m a business writer, not a furniture reviewer or home decorating maven. (trust me, you don’t want me decorating your home! 🙂 )

The key revolves around disclosure, and instead of actually reviewing the chair, I decided that I’d write somewhat of a meta-review, talking about how the chair ended up in my office and its implications for both bloggers and PR professionals seeking to have us examine their wares.

Oh, and my review? Here’s an excerpt: “As it turns out, I don’t particularly like the chair because while the fabric cover is clearly tough and durable, the rip-proof nylon isn’t very comfortable and I really wish it had a cloth, cotton or even corduroy cover. But I’m in the minority. My wife…”

You can read more about this topic, including the email back and forth with Omni, the bean bag company, on my business blog: How to get bloggers to write about your product.

Lots of people still don’t know about blogs

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 09/1/06

Wayne Hurlbert had a good post this morning that bloggers should all take a gander at.  He reminds us that a lot (most?) people aren’t really aware of what blogs are and what they are all about.

What is not so obvious is the level of blog awareness among the general mainstream population. In fact, many people are not aware of blogs, even though they might even read blogs themselves. They just might not know that what they are reading is a blog. While that might seem farfetched to many bloggers, it’s not that outlandish to non-bloggers. After all, many people think bloggers are only self absorbed navel gazers anyway. If the mainstream media is a guide, them the only types of blogs that exist to them are political blogs, personal blogs, and the blog stylings of various celebrities.

Wayne’s suggestion is a good one, which is to start conversations about blogging with people.  Like, do you know what a blog is?  The explaining it and giving them your card with your URL on it.  This is a tough one for me, in all honesty.  On a number of occasions this summers I’ve been pressed to explain blogging.  It’s tough you know.  Especially without being able to show one at the moment.  All of my friends (non-blogging) and family (both mine and Lorraine’s) know that not only do I blog, but I get paid to blog.  They also know that I have several blogs on the go.  Because of this I tend to get cornered at some point in the evening on “what is this blogging thing” or “explain blogging to me”.  You know what I really need?  A two-sided business card template which has easy answers to “what is blogging” on one side and on the other space to add my own contact info.  Maybe something done up and saved as a PDF that can be printed on Avery stock card size?

Hmm, sounds like a good way for folks I know to promote their books.

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Realtors Turn To Blogging For Sales

Posted by: of One By One Media on 08/31/06

Kate Kaye of ClickZ reports that spending for marketing budgets for real estate is waining in the regular newsprint of old. Realtors are spending more and more of their ad budgets online. Citing a study performed by Classified Intelligence she indicates:

So, if 58 percent of real estate agents surveyed are raising ad budgets this year, where is the money going? Where they are spending the bulk of the money online, in fact, is on their Web sites. Twenty-six percent spent 10 percent and 29 percent spent 20 percent of their budgets there. Just 6 percent did not spend at all on their Web sites.

Impressive numbers but where are they actually spending the money? Andy Beal believes he knows where the revenue is going and that is to blogs. In fact as Mr. Beal states:

While Realtors are reducing their offline spend, the report shows there is no clear winner for online ad spend.

But I know the answer. Want to know where real estate agents are investing their online efforts? Blogging! Yep, I lose track of the number of new blogs that I see each day that relate to the real estate industry. But don’t just take my word for it, take a look at these charts…


Andy makes a good point about the discussion of real estate, but what is interesting to find are blogs about real estate that are being tracked by Technorati have reached nearly 1000. The reason I find this interesting is because less than a few weeks ago I did the exact same search for a presentation to a real estate agent and it turned up only half that number. Real estate blogs are popping up all over the blogosphere and Google shows that over 91,000,000 search results come from searching blogs for real estate. After doing some other snooping around it looks like some in the real estate businesses are spending huge amounts on pay per click campaigns and for paid search. Of these companies I was unable to find any of them working natural search through blogs. Being the investigator type, I was curious if I could find a blogger on Google that was in the denver area. Real estate always seems to be on the rise here in Denver so a realtor can be found on every street corner. I searched Denver Realtor. At the time of this writing, I was able to find that the number 2 search result turned up Kristal Kraft. It just so happens that Kristal is a realtor in Denver that has a blog. Today she has a beautiful picture of balloons being launched in the blue Colorado sky. I’ve not personally talked with Kristal but rest assured, if I was looking for a realtor in Denver, she may get my call only because I was able to find her easily.
Realtors in the real estate business are clamoring for a piece of the online pie, but those realtors that hop on the blog bandwagon will find themselves out ahead of those still trying to attract the home buyers and sellers via that thing rolled up on the driveway. A very small investment has given one blogger a leg up on the competition.

Why bloggers, even business bloggers, sometimes need to revise history

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There’s a school of thought in the blogosphere that suggests once a Weblog article is written and published for the world to see, it’s done, cast in stone, and never to be touched or modified again. You can produce more recent updates or corrections, but there’s a sense that the “historical archive” is more important than being accurate or correct or contemporary.

Sometimes that just doesn’t work, though, and I experienced just this situation with a recent article I wrote on my weblog about the JonBenet Ramsey murder, an article that was reprinted in the local newspaper this morning, just hours before new revelations in the case were unveiled that made the entire article irrelevant and wrong.

What to do? Indeed, what should bloggers do when their material later becomes incorrect? Should they go back to the original, already published article and tweak or update it? Or just ignore the situation?

Please, take a few minutes and go read my longer essay on this topic, the one with all the ugly details: Why bloggers must be historical revisionists

Business 2.0’s Blogging for Dollars Article

Business 2.0’s September issue (coming soon to the Web) features a cover story called Blogging for Dollars.

Most of the people featured in the story, Michael Arrington of TechCrunch, Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing and Drew Curtis of Fark, are all A-list bloggers.

In fact, the focus of the story is on how individuals or a few people together can generate significant revenue through blog ads by targeting a niche. (Hmmm…kind of like what’s going on here.)

While this makes for a good cover story, it doesn’t help those of us who are blogging for our business, as opposed to making blogging our only business.

I can only imagine the number of people who now think that quitting your job and starting a blog is a viable career option. For every Dooce there a hundred thousand million or more bloggers typing away in obscurity who don’t have the talent for turning a phrase the way she does.

How many more snarky blogs do we need that target celebrity blunders? (I can only imagine the number of ones and zeroes that were sacrificed this morning to tell and retell, examine and reexamine Paramount’s booting of Tom Cruise.

How many tech/gizmo/blogs can survive before we’re oversaturated? I mean, I can’t believe there are even that many new toys to talk about.

While the article gives some lip service to the possibility that a downturn in the ad market would hurt these bloggers, it doesn’t really spend too much time dwelling on it. Of course there will be a downturn in the ad market…there always is. Often followed by a upturn. Then another downturn. Then….

Also, because of the low cost of entry,  most individual bloggers will always have to be watching their back, because it doesn’t take a lot of brainpower for someone else to start writing in your niche and steal some of your thunder.

If you’re planning on quitting your day job to blog in your niche, this article’s probably required reading. If not, reading about people who make millions do exactly what you do can either be inspirational or infuriating.

But, if you blog to market your business, tips like blog “at least half a dozen posts every weekday before lunchtime” probably won’t do you much good.

The Dangers of Pissing Off a Blogger

At Business Blog Consulting we have a category called “Dangers of Blogging,” but I’ve always thought it best served stories about Microsoft employees who like to take photos of Macs being unloaded in Redmond or flight attendants who take “revealing” photos of themselves at work and blog about it. (If by “revealing” the airline meant “without comfortable shoes.”)

What we really need is a category called “Dangers of Pissing Off a Blogger.” That could be a real help to the PR and marketing people who read this blog.
Case in point: Eric D. Snider has a Web site that hosts his “Snide Remarks” articles and his blog. Recently, he was invited to a press junket for Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center that he ruminates in an article called “I Was a Junket Whore.”

In it, he talks about how no real journalists with ethics would go on a junket and how much Paramount spent on wooing him to get him to write positive things about the movie. He followed that up with a blog entry where he tore into another “junket whore.”

Paramount’s response?

Well, I knew Paramount wouldn’t like the article if they happened to read it, and I figured they wouldn’t invite me on any more junkets. But they went a step further and banned me from all their press screenings, too — the ones that ALL critics (not just quote whores) go to. They also convinced their regional publicists to ban me from screenings for the other studios those publicists handle.

Snider of course noted all this on the article and the follow up blogs. It even got him (and Paramount) some coverage on NPR and perhaps some other media outlets. (Plus, the blog you’re reading now.)

Now, personally I don’t agree with everything Snider says.

But if the goal of the studio is for the film to make a profit, then it’s absurd to spend so much promotional money on things that, in the end, won’t actually increase ticket sales very much.

Actually, all of the money they spent on Snider’s hotel room and flight and dinner stipend probably wouldn’t buy one commercial on a nationally broadcast show, plus most people would Tivo right over the commercial anyway. Plus, Maggie Gyllenhaal is a beautiful, sexy actress and I’ll fight anyone who says different!

That being said, Paramount and other corporations need to learn how to handle bloggers better. In this case, ignoring Snider probably would have been in their best interest. Most people probably know that junkets are meant to sway reviewers, and those who don’t probably don’t care.

In other cases, especially when bloggers are angry about bad customer service (AOL?), or batteries that make good campfire starters (Sony? Dell?), it’s best to take care of the problem immediately, starting with the most prominent bloggers.

In still other cases the best solution may be to tell “your” side of the story, and let the chips fall where they may. After all, soon enough someone will be blogging about another customer-service-story-from-hell and you can go back to running your business.

Does Blogging Help Your Business?

Posted by: of Expansion Plus on 08/17/06
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PRSA’s Issues and Trends has a good article about PR bloggers today.

The article looks at blogging from several angles and makes some salient points:

  • You should figure who would be interested in your content – will you reach the right audience? PR professionals tend to read PR blogs and this may not be the best audience for building a PR practice.
  • Blogging will not necessarily boom your business, but it will raise your profile and build your reputation as a thought leader. Steve Rubel’s rise to Senior VP at Edelman is cited as an example.

How can you tell if your blogging is successful?  As with any business stategy, set a goal before you start and measure your results.  It does not have to end up in the top 10 blogs in your category to be a success – it just has to reach the right people and resonate with them.

Kazaa Australia Boss Sues Canadian Blogger

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on 08/16/06
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In a case which has evident implications for Canadian bloggers but also for bloggers worldwide, Kazaa Australia boss Nikki Hemming is suing Canadian blogger Jon Newton and others for defamation, on the basis of an article earlier this year on Newton’s p2pnet site, as reported in this week’s IT Today section of the national daily The Australian (not a hyperlink permalink, no guarantee it will be there indefinitely).

The suit is over material posted on p2pnet and anonymous comments on that post, some months ago at a time when Hemming was in court in a Sydney case. Included in the suit with Newton are his ISP and four John Doe, anonymous commenters. The article has since been removed from the p2pnet site.

Jon Newton is disputing the suit vigorously and observes that if Hemming wins the case ‘it’ll open the door even wider for lawsuits against Canadian bloggers’  .

Canadian internet law professor Michael Geist has commented on the case and its implications in his BBC Online article Free speech, libel and the internet age. Geist draws attention to how the legal frameworks in different jurisdictions have a variety of implications for internet intermediaries, such as internet service providers and even individual bloggers who allow comments.  

The difficult question is not whether these sites and services have the right to voluntarily remove offending content if they so choose – no one doubts that they do – but rather whether sites can be compelled to remove allegedly unlawful or infringing content under threat of potential legal liability.

The answer is not as straightforward as one might expect since the law in Commonwealth countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia varies depending on the type of content or the nature of the allegations.

Canadian media lawyer Dan Burnett also comments on the different treatments in different jurisdictions, in his statement as reported at the August 5 Toronto Freedom of Speech Online concert and benefit. Burnett sees Canada as being laggard in reforming the law and comments:

In addition to the reforms we are lagging behind already, the internet age raises some new and fundamental questions. How does the right of reply on wiki and reader-post sites affect the law? Are we going to hold site operators liable for automatic posts by others? Are (we) going to recognize a defense for a person who operates a public forum for debate?

So where are bloggers without ready resource to internet lawyers to go for advice on these matters?

It seems not uncommon for bloggers to refer, on defamation and other legal issues, to the Electronic Frontier Foundation Legal Guide for Bloggers. That’s good as far as it goes, and there is some good advice in the document, but unless I’m missing something the document is a legal guide for the United States of America, not a global guide. (Actually, from a chat today with a lawyer friend very knowledgeable in these matters, I would seriously doubt whether a comprehensive global guide of any depth in this area is likely to emerge in the near or distant future.) 

Whatever the peculiarities of various legal jurisdictions, clearly some degree of prudence is needed in terms of what we post to our blogs and what we allow in terms of comments. Dave Taylor had some good advice on this in his post last year SEO Book’s Aaron Wall sued over comments on his weblog: Dave saw the case as ‘a wakeup call to business bloggers who haven’t yet thought through their own comment and comment moderation strategies’. 

And however the currrent case in Canada turns out, it too is clearly a call to look at the posting and comment moderation policies for our own blogs and those of any companies to which we consult.

Sorry Strumpette, Your Corporate Blogging’s Dead Riff Is Oh So Clever But It’s Not accurate

Posted by: of BlogWrite for CEOs on 07/26/06

Strumpy (aka Amanda Chapel / anonymous PR blogger / tall, athletic, Pantene shoulder-length black hair, perfect perky boobs – ed. note: you’ve got to be kidding) is all fired up today with his/her new meme: The Death of Corporate Blogging.

God, (s)he’s clever the way she/he/it writes.

But (s)he’s wrong: corporate blogging – or at least the widespread use of blogging as a business communications tool is NOT dead. And I’m not just saying that because my new book, The Corporate Blogging Book (Penguin Portfolio August 2006), is coming out next week.

Well OK that’s one reason I’m saying it.

Corporate blogging is just getting started

The real reason is oh so simple. Far from being dead, corporate blogging – the use of a blog either internally or externally as part of a company’s online communications and marketing toolkit – is just getting started.

As Ken Yarmosh, who live-blogged my Washington DC book launch yesterday, put it:

“Despite the echoes we often hear in the halls of geek-dom, the blogosphere is not saturated yet. There are many, many more voices to come, blogging on everything from finance to real estate, to yes, even air conditioners. And I know, because I’ve met them this afternoon.” – Ken Y.

Look, I’m sifting through the stack of business cards I got yesterday and here are the kinds of corporate blogging wannabes who attended (I won’t use specific names out of respect for their privacy): commercial real estate, attorney-at-law, non-profit foundation, custom publishing group, government affairs office, board of trade, three or four national associations and so on.

Strumpy, read my book

Strumpy, read my book for god’s sake and maybe you’ll get it. I make a lot of points. Three of the key ones are this:

It’s not about being cool

Corporate blogging is not about being cool. It’s about following your customers where they’re going… and that’s online. You gotta be there to interact with your customers. It’s that simple. Blogging enables an instant (or almost) conversation with them. And that’s what people want. They want to be heard. They want to be acknowledged. Then they’re more apt to do business with you and your organization.

A blog is just a publishing platform
A blog is just a platform, a powerful, simple, inexpensive Web publishing system. Why in heck wouldn’t most companies adopt this platform? Call it Web 2.0. Call it common sense. Call it budget cutting. Who needs a whole IT department that takes months to update a page on a corporate site, when a non-techie manager can do it in minutes with blogging software?

Customers are driving this – not consultants
The new world that PR practitioners, marketing strategists and other consultants are touting is here. We haven’t concocted it as a way to line our pockets with gold. Marketing has become a two-way conversation between customer and corporation. The big guys at the top have lost control or at least complete control. A lot of the best creative stuff (new ideas, great writing) is bubbling up from below.

With 40,000 or 60,000 or whatever new videos being posted everyday to YouTube, with trackbacks and tagging and RSS and digging and Technorati and del.ici.ous and all that cool stuff innovating, fine tuning and becoming easier for the non-techie to use every day… well I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that corporate blogging is here to stay.

Remember, those ordinary people are customers. They’re driving this thing. Not the corporate blogging consultants.

Sorry Strumpy, stuff it.

Update: See here.
Technorati: , ,

Air Force Researches Blogs

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on 07/6/06

According to a recent announcement by the US Department of Defense, a new study of blogs, to receive $450,000 in funding from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, is not about warblogging but about what sort of help blog research may provide in ‘fighting the war on terrorism’.

Two scientists at Framingham, Mass. Versatile Information Systems Inc., Dr. Brian E. Ulicny, senior scientist and Dr. Mieczyslaw M. Kokar, president, will be managing the project entitled “Automated Ontologically-Based Link Analysis of International Web Logs for the Timely Discovery of Relevant and Credible Information�.

Heady stuff.

I share some of blogger Tim Oren’s concern over the ‘ontologically-based’ part of the project description and the possible implication of a ‘one-theory-fits-all’ approach, especially in terms of cultural difference. But as Oren observes, there could be some useful civilian spinoff as well as militarily applicable outcomes.

I looked for signs of a blog, either corporate or individual, on the Versatile Information Systems website, but to no avail. Without knowing whether or not the scientists blog, I wondered which would be better for a scientific study of blogging, for the scientists to have practical, personal experience of blogging, or not?

And as a former public servant and sometime consultant to government, I wonder what possibilities this story suggests for further blogging research/consultancy in the government space?

Dr. Jakob Nielson nags yet again about Web usability

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Maybe I’m tilting at windmills with this particular discussion, but when usability guru Jakob Nielsen comes out with his list of Eight Problems That Remain, an excerpt of his newly published book Prioritizing Web Usability I can’t help but yawn and marvel at how he’s so out of touch with the reality of the modern Web and blogosphere.

For example, he believes that sites that don’t have visited links a different color to unvisited links are committing a critical, three skull-and-crossbone error, yet I can’t think of a site I visit with any frequency that doesn’t violate this “guideline”.

I admit that some of what he highlights remains a genuine problem with Web usability and in particular with blog usability, but so much of his criticism seems to be basically irrelevant and I have to wonder what sites he visits on a daily basis. They’re undoubtedly different to my own bookmark list…

I dig into his eight problems in considerable detail on my own blog, actually, so please check out my much longer commentary: Jakob Nielsen on Web Usability

Boing Boing Attacks Law Firm over Copyright Protection Efforts

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Maybe it’s just that I’m a huge fan of the World Cup and have been known in the past to shut down my business during the last few games of what is easily the most popular sporting event in the world, but I am appalled by the sophomoric response of the Boing Boing team to a letter from law firm representing the online rights to the games.

Here, read my thoughts on this, and, hopefully, add your own two cents about this situation:

Boing Boing attacks FIFA World Cup copyright protection efforts

Honestly, in many ways I see this as yet another blogger assault on business itself and another reason why companies continue to ignore or fear the blogosphere as a communications channel.

But, please, go read what I’ve written and decide for yourself.


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