Lame, But Lame

    March 28, 2006

In a post entitled “Lame, But Smart,” Nick Carr writes:

“On the other hand, I think it provides a fair overview of the various ways that corporate bloggers can get their companies into hot water – even without meaning to. Corporate blogs are corporate speech; there’s no way around that.”

He then goes to reprint a list of the “legal risks inherent in employee blogging.” This list includes things such as:

  • Defamation and Privacy Torts. Companies may be held liable if their employees post content to the corporate blog that defames or invades the privacy of third parties.
  • Intellectual Property Infringement. Posts that include a third party’s intellectual property, such as copyrighted material or trademarks, may expose the company to liability for infringement.
  • Gun-Jumping. While a company is in registration, statements made on a company blog “hyping” the company could be deemed a prohibited offer of the company’s securities, in violation of federal securities laws.

Nick, corporate speech is corporate speech, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter if it’s on a blog or not. It could be in email. It could be in a memo. It could be in a public, oral presentation done by the CEO. When’s IPO got pushed back (multiple times, if memory serves), it was due to statements that Marc Benioff made in the press and in public, not in a blog. Tying the points above to blogging is a red herring; it’s off-base and sensationalist.

A professional, acting in a sensible manner, will avoid the “risks of blogging” in the exact same way he or she would when speaking at a conference, or when speaking to a reporter, or when creating a document. Singling out the points above as “risks of blogging” is unneccessarily focusing on the medium; the real issue is in the message.

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Christopher Carfi, CEO and co-founder of Cerado, looks at sales, marketing, and the business experience from the customers point of view. He currently is focused on understanding how emerging social technologies such as blogs, wikis, and social networking are enabling the creation of new types of customer-driven communities. He is the author of the Social Customer Manifesto weblog, and has been occasionally told that he drives and snowboards just a little too quickly.