Today's Forbes magazine's "Attack of the Blogs" article (free registration) and a quote attributed to me warns that bloggers can be a threat to companies and corporations. It's a sentiment I've expressed numerous other times iin presentations, speeches, workshops, seminars and articles about the impact of consumer-generated media (which includes blogs) on corporate and brand reputation. The two are intertwined, postively AND negatively. Was I quoted out of context? Sure, in the sense that the article focused on extreme (e.g. Bloggers as "Lynch Mob") examples of what can go wrong in the blogosphere. These attacks are not commonplace, and this kind of behavior is only a tiny piece of what blogging is about. My very long interview with the reporter centered specifically on the new rules of "accountability" and how real consumer experiences with products and brands are heightening corporate exposure and vulnerability.
Bad Advice from Forbes for Companies: What I will really take issue with, however, is a sidebar to the story that includes tips for "Fighting Back." Some of them are way off base and represent exactly what NOT to do, including suggestions to pay bloggers to write on your behalf, or dig up dirt and feed it to sympathetic bloggers as part of a discrediting campaign. This is just plain bad advice for companies and brands. Transparency is essential, and any attempts to fudge identities or fudge the truth will only taint (and backfire in) the blogosphere. It will also further erode the already-fragile "trust" factor between consumers and companies.