You can, however, keep an eye on what bloggers are writing. And doing so is a wise idea – not so that you can play the heavy (unless laws are being broken), but so you can be aware of what’s said before it hurts you.

There are several ways to keep tabs on the buzz on the blogs about your company. Google Inc., not surprisingly, offers the ability to search blogs. Other free services, such as pubsub and Technorati, offer similar search capabilities and can send relevant material to your desktop via rich site summary (RSS) feeds.

Richard Giles, director of Clique Communications in Perth, Australia, cites the example of Kryptonite bicycle locks. The Canton, Mass.-based Kryptonite division of Ingersoll-Rand Co. found itself in a public-relations nightmare when blogs started publishing the news that some of its bicycle locks could be opened with a slightly modified plastic ballpoint pen. “If they’d been monitoring Web logs and saw it coming,” says Giles, “then they could have at least responded a lot quicker.”

The way to react to unwanted blog publicity is to respond with facts and, where appropriate, remedies. Trying to shut the bloggers up is “absolutely the wrong move to make,” Giles says.

Take Apple Computer Inc., which last year took legal action against blogger Nicholas Ciarelli after Ciarelli’s ThinkSecret blog published advance information about Apple product announcements. The move provoked a storm of online criticism — although, Giles says, it doesn’t seem to have hurt Apple’s sales. “But that’s probably because they’ve got fabulous products and they can get away with it.”

Better to turn the problem into an opportunity, says Jeremy Wright, author of Blog Marketing. That’s what Intuit Inc. did when a friend of Wright’s had problems with its tax preparation software. Spotting negative comments about the software, Intuit’s president offered a free upgrade to solve the problem.

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