Execs Mull Pitfalls Of Corporate Blogs

LOS ANGELES--Among the hurdles faced by corporations that want to blog, some of the most formidable come from their internal legal departments, said panelists at the OMMA Hollywood Conference & Expo Tuesday.

Consider the blog by golf equipment company TaylorMade-Adidas golf, which launched about 18 months ago. When bloggers want to mention a particular golf club, the legal department wants a symbol--an 'R' in a circle--to appear next to the product name, to indicate that it's a registered trade name, said Jason Woodmansee, manager, global e-marketing, TaylorMade-Adidas golf.

The problem, said Woodmansee, is that no one writes that way in casual conversation--especially bloggers. Including the symbol would violate one of Woodmansee's principal rules for corporate bloggers: "Be authentic."

Resistance by counsel and other higher-ups is just one challenge confronting companies that want to create blogs, said Woodmansee and other panelists--Pete Blackshaw, chief marketing officer at Nielsen BuzzMetrics, and David Carter, vice president of strategy at iUpload.

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Corporations also need to consider the intensive time investment that blogging requires. "You have to have constant content for it to work," Woodmansee cautioned.

In addition, blogs that allow comments must figure out what to do when posters ask questions. At TaylorMade-Adidas golf, people asked very specific questions about the fit of particular golf clubs, but the company didn't have the resources to respond individually to all of those questions.

Woodmansee said the company eventually posted more detailed information about how to fit a golf club on the main Web site.

In a departure from the notion that blogs are supposed to be freewheeling, Carter said he advises corporations that they need to exert control over their bloggers' posts. Blogs, he said, are a vehicle to get a company's message to the public. "In the corporate world, they're about 'The Man,'" Carter said.

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