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7 Ways To Handle An Angry Blogger

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Pulling a lawyer out of your pocket isn’t necessarily the best way to deal with an angry blogger, and businesses should know that. If anything, it makes the blogger’s target look like that much more of a jerk.

In David-and-Goliath stories, the Davids always come out looking innocent, even if they’re not.

Online criticism is a consequence of the new world that blogs have created and many businesses aren’t handling it well. Often they take a PR molehill and turn it into a mountain by threatening and attempting to silence critics.

Perhaps it’s because companies have traditionally turned to their lawyers to fight for them. But typically those lawyers are fighting against other lawyers representing other companies – Goliath versus Goliath battles.

When faced with a cease-and-desist order, though, bloggers often post it as further evidence against their opponent, and tend to rally the blogosphere behind them during the fight. What was a pebble looses a boulder of bad PR.

So how do you handle a blogger with a vendetta? Here are seven ideas:

1.    No lawyers – Legal action is your last resort. Legal orders challenge the sovereignty that causes them to blog in the first place – the ability to say and publish whatever they want. A cease-and-desist letter can make you look like a bully.

2.    Keep it personable — See if you can deal with the blogger directly, politely, respecting his or her viewpoints. Plead your case and ask if they’ll reconsider their position. This can be done in the comments section. Often they’re too hot-headed to listen, but sometimes they do.

3.    Don’t escalate the debate – Chances are the blogger’s not an A-lister with the power to rally the troops and make a mess of it that could last up to a week (short lived in the blogosphere, not so much in the search results). Judge whether or not anyone will notice and then decide if it’s worth a fight (or carefully worded discussion).

4.    Crank up the Spin Machine – This doesn’t mean blow smoke at your assailant. While you’re negotiating, feed some positive tips to A-listers, newspapers, and online publications in the hopes that some will cover it and outweigh the negative.

5.    Join the discussion – State your case in the comments. Be cordial, respectful, dispassionate. Be transparent by making it clear who you are – the last thing you want is some detective IP tracking that links your company to an asinine remark or fake identity. Avoid legalese and public relations shtick (everybody hates that).

6.    Remind of unintended consequences – This may only apply to disgruntled former employee bloggers. Remind the blogger that potential employers (or other entities) may google their name. If it appears that the blogger is a professional liability for what they may say, then they may be passed over. Here’s a good guide to handling former employees.

7.    The Last Resort – If a lawyer is necessary (if it comes to libel or breach of contract or leaked secrets, etc.), expect that the blogger will post any correspondence from the legal department, especially if the message appears to be an attempt to silence them. Recently, cease-and-desist letters have come with questionable claims to copyright of the letter itself, threatening action if the text of the letter is published. This is just begging to blow up into something newsworthy, so use your lawyers wisely.

7 Ways To Handle An Angry Blogger
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  • http://www.businessandnetworking.com Con von Hoffman

    That list should be given out to every employee at every company. If you have to respond, do so with the intent of having a conversation. Explain, don’t defend. The more reasonable you are the better. You don’t have to go to every fight you’re invited to but if you do go make sure that someone else can play the role of the jerk. One more rule I would ad: Don’t lie. Don’t post under an assumed name, don’t make stuff up. All that can and will come back at you. As it should.