Freedom Of Speech And Controversy On Your Business Blog

In the past I briefly talked about the controversy surrounding Chik-Fil-A. I’ve talked about controversy and having to deal with it often. I figured this was as good a time as any to talk about freedom of speech and controversy as it pertains to business blogs as opposed to general blogging.

Pitbull or Victim?
cobalt123 via Compfight

When businesses are thinking about being controversial, they shouldn’t be thinking about being controversial on social issues such as politics or religion. Those types of things can take away from the reason you created the blog and your business as well.

Unless those issues are what your blog is about, it’s best to stay away from them; at least on your business blog. If you feel the need to express your opinion about other things, it’s best to create a personal blog, whether you use your real name or not, and go that route.

However, negating the benefits of going against the grain, which is what controversy is all about, as it pertains to your business, means you’ve giving up an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. For instance, on this blog, I’ve taken some contrary views to the norm as it pertains to backlinks. All that does is set me apart from others who do some of the same type of work I do and starts a discussion point. In a way, it also establishes me as a free thinker, someone who sees things from a different perspective, and potentially helps me get clients who have some thoughts that lean my way.

Using another example, let’s say that I do kitchen remodeling. Most people in that industry recommend granite counter tops because they’re sturdy and pretty, and they come in multiple colors. If I wanted to be like the majority, I’d also advocate granite counter tops.

However, I’ve seen a few people that advocate slate counter tops, saying they’re also sturdy, easier to clean, won’t stain and that you can even cut on them without worrying that you’re going to cut them up. So, maybe someone else starts writing about the benefits of using slate instead. It goes against the norm, but you can bet that someone out there doesn’t like granite and likes reading something where an expert in the field has a much different opinion. And let’s face it, even those that advocate using granite can’t say slate is horrible, even if it wouldn’t be their first option.

Now, I don’t know whether slate is popular or not; I’m just using this as an example of how it might be controversial within the remodeling industry because everyone else goes in a different direction. As long as it’s related to business, controversy could end up being a good thing. Now, if you were advocating paper counter tops, that wouldn’t be controversial; it would be crazy, and you’ll never work. So you have to pick your options based on your own business.

Final point. Freedom of speech means that everyone can say anything they want to, no matter what or where it is. It also means that others can disagree with you however and wherever they feel as well. Hopefully it only stays at a verbal level but that’s the thing about some controversial topics. You’re probably never going to have two social media consultants coming to blows over whether Twitter is better than Facebook, but social issues are a much different animal. That’s why it’s best to avoid those topics where your business is concerned.

So, have you started blogging yet? Come on, be controversial, say something!

16 thoughts on “Freedom Of Speech And Controversy On Your Business Blog”

  1. Mitch, I agree with you about staying clear of controversial topics on your business site unless you can find creative ways to make it work for your business. Of course, this all depends on the topic and issue at hand.

    1. True Marcie, since some businesses deal with controversial issues and might want to write about them. Still, even in that case writing in an inflammatory way might not be the best course to take.

  2. I agree with everything you’ve said. But what about when someone does write on their personal blog and takes a stand on a social or religious issue – followed by people ferreting that out and harassing them and their business/employer for it? Isn’t that just bullying, assuming they’re not speaking on behalf of the company? Assuming they’re not advocating something illegal?

    1. Holly, I don’t think so, mainly because it can’t be an across the board thing for everyone. For instance, during the early days of the Ferguson issue a tape came out showing this long time cop saying some very controversial things about minorities and people being arrested, and supposedly he’d written a lot of that stuff in other places, if not a particular blog. If the police allowed him to continue being a cop while doing these things, the police have no moral authority and the people have no expectation of fairness (not that many do now anyway) and… well, we’ve seen what’s happened there.

      I’m not saying it’s always the proper response but I’ve always talked about consequences on this blog and knowing when you shouldn’t do or say something just because you can. Like the CEO who was fired from Mozilla after a month because he supported causes against gay people and the, I believe, CFO or another country who decided to say some negative things about South Africa as she was boarding a plane to go there, trying to be funny but losing her job before the plane landed.

      Are there some consequences that go over the top? Absolutely! Is the majority always right when they rise up against someone? Not even close. Sometimes you have to go with your conscience because it’s the right thing to do and deal with it. Other times, if you’re not ready for the backlash, it might be smarter to keep it to yourself, or at least not be in a public forum, especially in a business environment, spouting stuff. Not everyone will get away with it like the CEO for Chik-Fil-A seems to.

  3. Good article, as always.

    I little bit off-subject, but kind of along the same lines a bit:

    One should not only be careful what they discuss on their business blogs, but should be careful when conducting business in person as well.

    I don’t remember the exact details, but a guy was having some problems with his cable service provider. After getting nowhere with customer service, the guy somehow gets a phone number to the cable company’s comptroller, and starts calling them. The comptroller, in turn, starts making phone calls to the to guy’s place of employment, and the guy is in turned fired. Whether the guy was throwing the name of his employer round , I do not recall the article saying. But, it just goes to show, one is probably better served keeping work separate from any personal issues and opinions, no matter how strongly one may feel about them.

    1. Derron, I would dare anyone to try that on me if I was complaining about something; then again, I work for myself. And I’d be calling and going up the ladder to get back at that guy AND get my issue resolved. Still, there are times when one has to defer from certain behaviors because of their business. For instance, I never write anything about anyone I’m presently working with, but I might allude to situations later on without mentioning any names. Perspective always.

  4. Hey Mitch,

    I prefer to steer clear of controversial topics too. I know some people think it’s the best way to stand out and get a lot of traffic. Some people get very passionate about their beliefs and those can lead to arguments because we both know that there are just some people out there that have to be right.

    It’s not that I don’t strongly have my own beliefs because I most definitely do but no one is going to change my mind about them which is why I prefer to just steer clear of any conversations that can lead to something unpleasant.

    I’m chicken, I know! LOL!!!


    1. Adrienne, it’s not chicken, you just don’t have to go there. I’ll do it here and there on this blog but it’s rare on my business blog. I will tackle diversity issues there since I talk about it professionally, and that’s somewhat controversial, but it’s necessary. Just keep doing what you do; seems to work well.

  5. In your business keep everything postive. Everything you write in an email or on the internet should be positive. never get into it with a customer. The next time they buy something increase their price to get rid of problem customers.ChrisOwner CEL Financial ServicesTax Return Preparer

    1. Adrienne, it’s not chicken, you just don’t have to go there. I’ll do it here and there on this blog but it’s rare on my business blog. I will tackle diversity issues there since I talk about it professionally, and that’s somewhat controversial, but it’s necessary. Just keep doing what you do; seems to work well. 😉

    2. Chris, you’re talking customers and I’d pretty much agree with that. I’m not talking customers necessarily but deciding the difference between being honest and using good judgment. I’d rather go for neutral sometimes than always being positive unless my business only focused on positivity.

  6. Hi Mitch,
    Great post.
    Another informative and valuable post. I agree with your all things about freedom of speech. I learn a lot of knowledge from this post.
    Thanks for this. I’ll be waiting for your next valuable post.

  7. It certainly looks like the man in question has grounds for a lawsuit. You can Google “Conal O’Rourke” if you’re interest in reading more about it. Seems the cable company in question has been in the news for complaints from other customers as well.

  8. On the other hand, wouldn’t you, as a consumer, rather know how businesses stand on “controversial social issues” (scare quotes because we construct most of these things out of boredom or a need to separate people into groups or whatever — divide and conquer and all that)? I’d so much rather just be able to pick a different business than to have some guy in back in the office laughing, saying, “Man, I hate that Jewish guy who just walked in here, but I sure like his money! Glad he thinks we like everybody, that moron.”

    1. Hey Josh! Truthfully, no I wouldn’t. If I go into a store or restaurant I only want what I want and then want to leave. Overall I don’t care until someone makes me care.

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