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Blogging? New book can get you started

One of the more fascinating aspects to the development of the World Wide Web has been the proliferation of blogs. These Web logs have emerged from geeky obscurity, entered the mainstream and attracted the attention of corporate America.

By one estimate, some 80,000 new blogs come online everyday. We can debate the actual numbers, but there is no denying that blogging has become a powerful communication tool. A new book from AMACOM, the publishing division of the American Management Association, examines the opportunities — and the risks — that blogging brings to business.

“Blog Rules: A Business Guide to Managing Policy, Public Relations, and Legal Issues” by Nancy Flynn is a good starting point if you are thinking about adding a blog to your online presence. While you may end up deciding that blogging isn’t right for your business, this book makes it clear that you can’t simply ignore the burgeoning blogosphere.

Flynn, who is founder and executive director of The ePolicy Institute (a training and consulting firm online at www.epolicyinstitute.com), offers readers a guide designed so that they are “helped, not hindered, by this revolutionary tool.”

I’ll share a few of the critical points that Flynn has developed as the “36 Blog Rules to Keep You in Business — and Out of Court — with Your Corporate Reputation Intact:”

• Blog Rule No. 1 — The blog is an electronic communications powerhouse. Blogs are likely to have greater impact on business communications and corporate reputations than e-mail, instant messaging and traditional marketing-oriented Web sites combined.

• Blog Rule No. 2 — Business blogs are not necessary or appropriate for every organization. Evaluate benefits and assess risks before leaping into the blogosphere.

• Blog Rule No. 4 — It’s the casual, conversational, anything-goes nature of the blog that makes it both so appealing to blog writers and readers. It is also what makes blogging so potentially dangerous to your business.

• Blog Rule No. 9 — Strategic blog management begins with the establishment of a clear objective. In other words, why does your organization want to blog?

• Blog Rule No. 13 — Treat blog posts and comments as business records. Be sure blog business records are retained, archived and readily available to courts or regulators in the event of a workplace lawsuit or regulatory investigation.

• Blog Rule No. 20 — The blog is all about content.

• Blog Rule No. 21 — Blogging culture demands absolute honesty. The blogosphere hates a phony!

• Blog Rule No. 22 — Assign a lawyer to review, edit and — as necessary — delete readers’ comments pre-post. All it takes is one inappropriate comment to trigger a workplace lawsuit, regulatory investigation or blog mob attack.

• Blog Rule No. 30 — The First Amendment does not protect bloggers.

• Blog Rule No. 32 — Blogs are rapidly — and forever — changing the way PR people and media relations professionals do business.

• Blog Rule No. 36 — Blogs are a phenomenal vehicle for attacking companies, brands and individuals. Be proactive. Prepare today for the attack that is likely to hit tomorrow.

So, what about you? Have you, or your business, jumped into the blogosphere? Send us the details for a story we have planned for an upcoming editorial focus on technology.

Jim Laird is editor of the Mississippi Business Journal. His e-mail address is jlaird@msbusiness.com. He doesn’t blog, but he’s thinking about it.

Contact MBJ editor Jim Laird at jlaird@msbusiness.com.

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