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Google’s “Sicko” BlogStorm



As Brittany reported over the weekend, Google blogger Lauren Turner made a faux pas, when she added her personal opinions to an official Google blog post. After a weekend blogstorm (that’s two weekends in a row we’ve had one), Turner posted a clarification (although no apology)…

Well, I’ve learned a few things since I posted on Friday. For one thing, even though this is a new blog, we have readers! That’s a good thing. Not so good is that some readers thought the opinion I expressed about the movie Sicko was actually Google’s opinion. It’s easy to understand why it might have seemed that way, because after all, this is a corporate blog. So that was my mistake — I understand why it caused some confusion.

Google’s Matt Cutts is very adept at balancing corporate and personal opinion and offered some advice for Turner and other new corporate bloggers…

The easiest time to make a blogging gaffe is when you?re starting out. When you?re about to start blogging, ramp up slowly:
1) Ask someone experienced to read the first several blog posts you do. They can flag inaccuracies or tell you if you misjudged the tone of a post.
2) Write a few posts that you?re willing to throw away. You still get the practice, but without as much pressure.
3) Do a guest post or two on someone else?s blog first. At Google, we have lots of official blogs. It?s better to try things out as a guest before you step into the spotlight on your own blog.
4) Practice on forums first. For example, Google has a lot of discussion and help forums where Googlers chime in from time to time. For Googlers, that?s a great place to start. For other companies, find the most relevant forum and practice chatting with people (make it clear that you work for your company so that people don?t think you?re astroturfing).

Matt offers lots more useful advice – although there’s no disclaimer as to whether this is Google sanctioned or not. ;-)

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington weighs-in and hopes that Google doesn’t start filtering all of its bloggers through PR…

What I don?t want to see is Google start to reign in its bloggers. As a public company Google is almost certainly putting blog posts through their legal and PR departments before they go live (how this slipped through is a mystery). If too many situations like the one above occur, they?ll start to add more policies and layers of review. If that happens, we?ll all have less insight into what?s going on there. I?m hoping it doesn?t.

Safe to say, this is going to make an excellent case-study for the new reputation management book I’m working on. ;-)

  • http://www.technologyevangelist.com Ed Kohler

    Great summary of the issue. The biggest issue I have with the post was the sales-y nature of the post. Does Google really need to use their blogs to pitch advertising? I hope not.

  • http://www.thevanblog.com Steven Bradley

    I agree Ed. I think it’s the sales part of the post that’s really at issue. Also that it’s on a company blog. After all blogging has quite a lot to do with opinions some we’ll agree with and some we won’t. Had this been on a non-company blog no one would have thought twice about it.