Thursday, November 02, 2006

Article: Blogging as a Business Tool

Lawyer David Petras of Gowlings wrote an article entitled: Used wisely, blogs can be a great business tool. His article was recently published in The Record and it is available on Lexis but (and the reason escapes me) it is not available online. Here are some points that caught my eye:
Since very little computer knowledge is required to blog, employees sometimes aren't as careful as they should before posting thoughts to their own or someone else's blog.

They may make negative comments about their employer or about their employer's customers or partners. At a minimum, this is embarrassing, but it might also diminish the employer's reputation and result in lost business. As well, if an employee makes inappropriate comments about other employees, libel or harassment lawsuits might result.
Very true. I believe this is an emerging area within cyberlaw.
Many companies with Internet and computer-use policies are now adding blog policies.

Generally, a good policy will encourage employees to identify themselves, disclose their connection to the company if blogging about company-related matters, state that they speak for themselves and not the company, avoid disclosure of trade secrets and not discuss customers or suppliers without their prior approval.

The policy should also state that a breach of the policy could result in termination. And it can happen. A Delta Air Lines flight attendant was terminated when her blog, Diary of a Flight Attendant, had pictures of her engaging in inappropriate conduct while in uniform and aboard a Delta plane.

As I have noted previously in this space, other employees have also been fired due to content on their personal blogs. And blogging can be positive ...
But blogging also has its benefits -- and many people think that the business positives outweigh the legal negatives.

Blogging can provide desirable publicity for a company and its products. And it's a different kind of publicity because it allows a more direct connection with its customers.

At Sun Microsystems, for example, the blog policy states:
"Many of us at Sun are doing work that could change the world. We need to do a better job of telling the world. As of now, you are encouraged to tell the world about your work, without asking permission first."
Good to keep in mind.


At 11:12 PM, Blogger The Frugal Law Student said...

Interesting article. How do you think law firms could utilize blogs as a business tool?

I think it would be cool if firms would have different attorneys post on a particular area of law. Clients or potential clients would not only find out useful information, but they could bounce questions off of attorneys.

At 3:53 PM, Blogger a blawger said...

I see the potential of blogs to be a huge tool to increasing access to justice. There is a lot of misinformation and inaccurate information about the law on the Net. As lawyers, we serve as gatekeepers to the law and its possible interpretations. I would love to see more law firms to set up blogs, podcasts (and web-based resources in general) to help their clients and the public at large.

Also, as you mentioned, the interaction of the Net would also help client communication.

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