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Agony Of The Blog Stars

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-04-19

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When one is a high-profile blogger, and an employee of a prominent Internet presence, sometimes the prospect of posting an entry can cause some personal misgivings.

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Editor's Note: If some of you up-and-coming bloggers ever wondered how some of the most notable names in the Internet industry (or the other half) live when it comes to blogging, check out what Dave and Mike offer and tell us what you think at WebProWorld.

At PubCon's wake-up round table, Morning Coffee Session with The Super Bloggers Of Search, Yahoo's Jeremy Zawodny, Google's Matt Cutts, and Microsoft's Robert Scoble each noted how hitting the post button is not always as easy as it looks; Mike McDonald sent along some of their quotes on trepidation and blogging.

The topic of Google Finance came up, in reference to a post Zawodny made about the competitor's product:

"When Google finance launched a lot of people kept asking me what I thought about it. What I had to say wasn't really nice, but it was something people wanted to hear me comment on it so I wrote it up. I'd mentioned that in some regards it had reminded me of some of the shortcomings that Yahoo finance suffered from in its earlier days.

"It was one of those things where I'm sitting there wondering - eehh do I click the publish buttton or not?

"What resulted was I ended up in a meeting with the manager of Yahoo Finance. She had read what I wrote, and that was the reason she wanted to get together and talk about some things they had coming up."

To Cutts, being out there is important:

"You have to be out there because every day somebody will throw some mud at you, and you have to be out there to deal with it."

Scoble pointed out how the pace of news being spread happens at blinding speed:

"If somebody comes up with a new idea or a new story or virus or something like that, these things get covered so much faster now than they did before blogs."

For all of these notables, corporate culture has some rules in place with regards to blogging about the entity that signs their paychecks. Zawodny said at Yahoo guidelines have been published, but the business pace of getting things done did prove troublesome once:

"We have things like you cannot disclose trade secrets; a lot of it is a reminder or repeat of the confidentiality policy and so on. 'If you're planning to write about work in your blog we would appreciate you letting you boss know', but that's not the same as saying that blogs require approval. There's a big difference. It's a pretty simple policy and it's available online.

"We once had a story that was going up on the Y!Search Blog and things typically go through a few people before we put it up. I was telling them 'we need to get this up soon.' At noon it still wasn't up, so I just posted it on my own blog. I got 'the call' shortly thereafter, and I just told them it just took too long for them to respond."

Google managed to make Mark Jen famous by firing him over his blogging only a couple of weeks after he started working at the company. Cutts remarked on that and Google's blogging policy in general:

"Google has a blogging policy and its a bit more involved than just be smart. It's a couple of pages long. Obviously we avoid things like blogging about financial data and internal information.

"The whole situation with (the guy that got fired) probably set Google back 6 months in terms of starting into blogging, but we've come a long way since then and things have really moved along.

"It was not an auspicious beginning to blogging at Google, but it's turned out ok."

'Be smart' applies all the time, to any of the corporate bloggers. For Scoble it's a guiding principle:

"We have one policy and that's be smart. The PR people would probably rephrase that as don't be stupid. You have to be professional and just be smart about it.

"One thing about it is the speed of things there just isn't a lot of time for a big approval process, issues move too fast for that."

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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