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Corporate Blogs: Legal Red Flags


AMA's Blogs: Marketing Beyond the Website workshop added a new topic  - the legal aspects of blogging. Charles M. Smith, Pheedo's COO and legal counsel, presented an overview of rRed_flaged flags that companies should keep in mind before launching a corporate blog.

1. Terms of Service -
Who owns the material on the blog? The company or the blogger?
2. Copyright Infringement
What content  can bloggers "borrow" from other blogs?
3. Liability 
What are the industry's regulatory issues that might effect posts? The more dangerous the product the more caution should be taken.
4. Privacy Policy 
Most blogs collect email and blog or website information. Look for blogs to adopt privacy policies similar to their website cousins.
5. Company control over posts
What are potential product liability issues?
6. Company control over comments
When is it acceptable to delete comments?
Sidebar: For more information read Charles' post - Who owns blog comments?

As we continue to observe, the increase of marketing/business corporate blogs is leading to the development and implementation of blog content guidelines and format structure. How much control will be placed on corporate bloggers is dependent on:

1. Company culture
2. Type of product/service
3. Available company resources

It shouldn't come as a big surprise that companies are hesitant about risks that are inherent with blogs. However, bowing to our friends in the law and HR departments, I am more convinced than ever that blogs can be an effective, efficient interactive marketing strategy.  

-Blogs can help build brands through ongoing natural conversations with the people who are the brand.
-Blogs can help build  customer relationships through real-time people-to-people conversations.
-Blogs can help build credibility through thought leadership posts.
-Blogs can help build ROI through lead generation and direct sales opportunities.

Very simply, blogs are a way of connecting with people through people. While I understand the  need for guidelines and regulatory caution, this voice in the blogosphere hopes that companies remain true to the concept of blogs: Honesty. Transparency. Passion.

Issues Facing Corporate Blogs


Came back yesterday from a trip to Chicago. I was presenting at AMA's workshop  Blogs: Marketing Beyond The Web. What began last December as a 3-city road trip (Seattle, NYC, Chicago) has turned into a 4-city tour. San Francisco in April was added this week. The workshop's goal is to help marketers understand the strategic application of blogs.

It's always a exhilarating but exhausting time. I continue to learn from both sides of the podium. The participants challenge us to go beyond platitudes about blogging (Bob Bly they are keeping us honest and on our toes!).

There was more discussion during this workshop regarding specific issues that corporations will face when they begin including blogs in the marketing mix. I'm taking that as a signal that companies are moving blogs higher into their consideration chain as a credible marketing strategy. 

The answers to many of the following questions will revert back to what is right for your company. For other questions, best practices will emerge, from the innovators who were willing to jump in the game early, setting the standards.

-Convincing senior management that the benefits of a marketing/business blog out weigh the risks.

Identifying The "Right Blogger"
-What skills are needed?
-How to structure the job description?
-How much time will it take?

Corporate Blogging Guidelines
-All agreed that corporate blogging guidelines will become SOP (standard operating procedure).
-The company's culture and type of products/services will influence the development of corporate guidelines. The more dangerous the product the more cautious the rules the higher the penalties.

-Is a company liable for comments placed by 3rd parties on their blog?
-Should you delete slanderous comments?
-Who owns the comments content -  the company or the commenter?
-What is the extend of the resources (time) needed to monitor comments?
Sidebar: Read Charles Smith's post on Reasonable Man about who owns comments.

Outsourced Blog Copywriters
-If blogs are the a window into the soul of an organization, where do outsourced blog copywriters fit into the model? 
-Are outsourced blog copywriters able to present the same passion/involvement as internal bloggers? 
-Are outsourced blog copywriters best utilized to produce general industry informational posts along side posts from internal company bloggers?
Sidebar: More about outsourcing blog writing on Radiant Marketing. Paul Chaney has some interesting thoughts and also posts to a few blog writing gigs.

How To Say Goodbye
-Does closing a corporate blog impact a company's image/goodwill?
-If a corporate blog just isn't cutting the mustard, what's the best exit strategy?

It's been fascinating to watch the rapid progression as marketing/business blogs move from a shoot from the hip attitude to a structured and strategic approach. This sure aint Doc's blogosphere.

Your Blog Voice


Another "AMA Blog Alumni" launched a weblog. Helen Hoefele pens Figmentations. Helen is testing the blog waters and experimenting to find her unique voice. But then, any blogger worth your time, should be continually doing the same. Exploring. Reaching. Trying.

Most writers (and artists) struggle throughout their careers to develop their unique style. Once they finally find it, Writing_1the challenge of the next stage begins and the next and the next. It's called growth.

Sometimes when I come across a new blog, I click on very first post and read a few of the beginning  writings. Then I'll skip back up to the current level. It helps give me a sense of the person ... and isn't that what's at the heart of a blog ... the person?

Here are a few tips and some ideas to help you find your authentic style.

The Blog Voice Elements
1. Style and tonality
2. Subjects/themes
3. Post format
Sidebar: The best information I've seen on blog post formats is from Contentious - a classic or what will become a classic - on blog writing.

Tips on How To Find Your Unique Blog Voice
1.Write - write - write. The more you write the more your style and voice will evolve.
2.Imagine the people who will read your blog. Think about individuals vs. a group.
3.Talk to the people who read your blog. Think conversation vs. lecture.
4.Let your personality come through. Include your own ideas and thoughts.
5.Read a couple of your blog posts aloud. Do you sound like you?
6.Enjoy the adventure. If you're having fun, your passion will come thru.

Helen - welcome to the blogosphere!

Read More About Finding Your Blog Voice
Write Away
47 Tips From The World's Best Bloggers
Class Readings
Secret of Their Success, Guardian Unlimited



Add A Litte Fun To The Blogosphere


Deep_fun_1Tris Hussey, View From The Isle - Professional Blogging & Blog Consulting, took the Diva Marketing suggestion of putting a little fun back into the blogosphere to heart - guess that's why he's called the Sensitive New Age Guy Blogger! Tris' 12 Feb Walk About Podcast, Are We Taking Ourselves Too Seriously, offers some ideas and challenges to bloggers, to every now and again, lighten it up.

Diva Marketing's Friday Fun posts try to do just that! Since all work and no play make Dick and Jane dull bloggers, here are a few non biz/non marketing blogs - just for fun!

-JibJab Times
-Professor Brainbridge on Wine
-Bernie DeKoven's Funlog
-Cosmic Reflections

If you still haven't had enough fun -a silly blogger t-shirt is sure to bring a chuckle or two to your day.

Graphic from Bernie DeKoven's Funlog

Another AMA Blog Worshop "Alumni" Launches A Blog


Sybil Stershic, one of the NYC participants of AMA's  Blogs: Marketing Beyond the Website workshop, joins the blogosphere. 

Her Quality Service Marketing blog will focus on internal marketing.  As Sybil puts it if your employees don't feel valued, neither will your customers. Looking forward to some great reads - welcome to the wonderful world of business and marketing blogs Sybil!

With all the workshop participants launching blogs, perhaps AMA should start an alumni club.

Blogmeister's Tips to Drive Traffic


 Need help marketing your blog? Check out the the Blogmeister's (Dana VanDen Heuvel) 10 Tips on how to drive traffic to your weblog. By the way, that's a perfect title for Dana hope he adds it to his biz cards!

Let's build some blog community fun
-the poster boy - robert
-the artist of the blogosphere - hugh
-the blogmeister - dana
-the mona lisa of the blogosphere - debbie
- the blogosphere bureaucrat (in a good way!) - scott

-the marketing diva of the blogosphere (blush ...I'm taking claim) - toby

Please, let's add some more!

photo from: http://pages.slc.edu/~ehyde/

Read more about communities

-The Community Research Network
-Enterprise Social Network Analysis (thanks to Randy Moss for the invite to the NVH Innovations Conference)
-Communities Dominate Brand (heard it from Modern Marketing)

One Blog's Hit Story


Anyone who has been blogging for more than a minute and thirty seconds understands that links drive hits. Alex found that out when he "live blogged" the State of the Union Address. Alex Geana pens the sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes sweet, but always divo smart "gay sex in the city " blog - Gay Guy Blog

Alex is one smart dude. He received a CNN news clip that Tech Central Station was covering bloggers who were "live blogging" the State of the Union Address. Sent them off an "e" that Gay Guy Blog   would be covering the SOTU. 

Alex's email
I'll be Blogging the State of the Union from a Gay New Yorkers perspective. After last year, I'm ready to do battle with my Blog. http://gayguy.blogs.com/ The main focus of my Blog is gay relationships, so the State of the Union is crucial.

Lo and Behold! Tech Central Station linked to One Gay Guy.  Links went up a day prior to the STOU. And not just a mention mind you, but a link on the right nav bar. Great positioning.

The Blog Stat Scoop

-Blog stats day prior to STOU - 700 approx
-Blog stats day of STOU 1,000 approx
-Blog stats 2-days after STOU - 700-800
-Blog stats week of 2/6 - 550-650

Alex says it was difficult to track history on Typepad (tell me about that one!). Typepad doesn't hold history. But he figured that TechCentral contributed about 300+ hits the day before the SOTU and almost 500 hits the day of.

Now the challenge is to build on the lift and keep an eye out for the next big link opportunity.

Students Are Blogging


Alex Brown, the creator of the innovative MBA Wharton Admissions Blog, is also a prof at at the University of Delaware.  [See the story behind the story of the Wharton blog.]

The class, BUAD477, Information Technology Applications in Marketing, includes an interesting project on blogging. Check out the blog and the course assignments. The students will be posting links to their blogs ... might be fun to "blogline" and keep a watch. I'm sure we marketers will learn a thing or two!

Oh - You'll never guess which blog is included among the examples ... hint you're reading it now! Pressure is really on now to create a great blog!

Hey Robert and Shel ... another story for The Red Couch?

One Blog's Hit Story - The Pitch


Let's call this part 2 of the story - a closer look at how Alex "pitched" Tech Central -

Alex's email
I'll be Blogging the State of the Union from a Gay New Yorkers perspective. After last year, I'm ready to do battle with my Blog. http://gayguy.blogs.com/ The main focus of my Blog is gay relationships, so the State of the Union is crucial.

He knew the "product" - live blogging of the State of the Union Address
He positioned his "product" - blogging the State of the Union Address from a gay perspective
He gave some extra punch - After last year, I'm ready to do battle with my Blog

All in keeping with the low-pitch/low-sell culture of the blogosphere.

Alex, thanks for teaching us marketers a few lessons!

What's A Blog


Yvonne DiVita has written a great "what's a blog" article for theadhub. Yvonne's own blog, Lip-Sticking, is an wonderful example of how to write a great niched blog. Thanks for the tips Yvonne!