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A practicing public relations professional would, of necessity, establish policies surrounding social media communications including the comments section.  These rules of engagement allow authors of the blog to control the content while encouraging conversations. The policies also provide a safe, respectful place for those who choose to contribute to the blog.

Three readings from this week’s assignment were policy statements for blog comments.  These were the TSA Blog, HHS.gov and the web strategist examined the Air Force blog policies. These policies offer a road map for bloggers who support transparency and yet help to reduce spam and off topic comments.

New and current bloggers may consider the following rules to include in their policy statements when establishing and or renovating a current blog. These suggestions represent a composite of recommendations from the three blog posts mentioned above.

  • Comments are welcome and encouraged
  • Moderator reserves the right to edit and/or delete the following types of comments:
    • Comments with two or more links that could be considered spam
    • Comments with profanity
    • Comments that attack another reader
    • Comments that are off topic
    • No spam
    • No reference to commercial entities, products, and/or services

Disclaimers may include the following

  • Comments do not reflect the opinion of the blogger
  • Posts are not an endorsement of product, person, service or organization
  • Blogger does not guarantee or warrant any information posted
  • Identification of commenters will be included.

Additional information to include:

  • Note that all comments are monitored for content before posting
  • Moderator reserves the right to turn off comments at any time
  • Moderator will respond to comments during business hours
  • Reporters can contact (name of blogger’s media spokesperson)
  • For more questions, commenters can contact (name of blog monitor)

blogger code

Most public relations operations have a crisis communications plan to deal with unexpected emergencies and challenging situations. The action/response plan offered by the Air Force Blog Assessment grid provided a useful guide on how to respond to specific situations and can be summarized as follows:

  • Monitor only the following posts from “trolls” and “ragers”
  • Fix the facts from misguided and unhappy customers
  • Let stand posts that agree or disagree and are factual and well-cited

Again from the Air Force blog post, responses may include the following:

  • Disclosure of bloggers connection to organization/blog
  • Cite sources
  • Tone that is respectful and reflects well on the organization/blog

About.com offered these thoughts about policies for blog comments, “Without comments, a blog is just like any other one-sided conversation on a website that reports and talks at its audience rather than with its audience.”

The blogsphere provides a place for the free exchange of ideas and concepts. By offering rules of engagement, the blogger will provide a safe place for dialogue that is respectful and elevates the conversation to a discussion of issues or topic at hand. These policies offer guidelines that are transparent and yet continue to allow for vigorous conversation.

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