Blogging: At least know what it is

There are several stories about blogging making the rounds of the news sites, as well as an ongoing discussion in the business world about employee blogging.

Item One: Katie Couric is in the news because she tried to pass off a producer's made up story as her own thoughts. Couric is supposedly blogging, but as it turns out, other people write her blog. And those other people, as it turns out, did not have much to say either so they were cribbing from the Wall Street Journal.

Blogging Rule Number One: Don't bother to blog if you can't think of anything to write. Blogging, fundamentally, is writing and nothing else. Some people like to write, some people are actually good writers, and other people, like Couric, have some other talent they should be pursuing.

Item Two: An obscure blogger who had a comment posted by a reader has become the focus of a huge discussion on the Internet. The reader's comment made a disparaging remark about a firm called JL Kirk. The Kirk firm served an order on the blogger to take the comment down. But there is just a tiny problem; the Supreme Court has already decided that bloggers are not liable for the comments posted by readers. The bullying tactics by JL Kirk have guaranteed that the Kirk firm will be remembered for a long time as clueless bullies. A better tactic would have been to ignore the whole thing. By overreacting, they have probably caused irrepaparable damage to the firm.

Blogging Rule Number Two: Even if you don't read blogs, at least know what they are, how they work, and their immense power to focus both positive and negative publicity on an issue. I still meet many people who thinks blogs are insignificant because they personally don't bother with them. Big mistake, and from a community and economic development perspective, huge lost opportunities.

Item Three: Are your employees blogging about your company or organization? Do you even know how to check? If they are blogging, are they writing positive or negative things?

Blogging Rule Number Three: Have an employee or organizational policy about blogging about the company, have it in writing, and make sure it is enforced fairly and consistently. Employees and staff have every right to blog on their own time about non-work topics and interests, but you don't want a disgruntled employee slamming your firm online.

For communities, blog-type Web sites can be a critical marketing tool--done right. Few community leaders and economic developers understand the potential of blogs for economic development, and even fewer get good advice on how to design and manage a blog strategy.

Remember that most business relocation research is being done on the Web. If your community or region is not using modern tools to tell the right story in the right way, you are losing jobs and business opportunities to other areas.

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