The most common argument print publications have agains the huge success and adoption of blogging is that, in their eyes, blogs lack the professional journalists necessary to properly research unique and creative content. Well, this weekend we had a great example of why that isn't at all the case, as one culinary magazine was actually caught lifting content from blogs without any accreditation.
On Wednesday evening Monica Gaudio wrote a blog post explaining how the for-profit publication, Cooks Source, had published a post she had written 5 years ago for Gode Cookery in which she detailed the history of apple pie. The article was published without any notice let alone a request for permission, and it wasn't until a friend of Monica's informed her about the copy job that she even knew it had occurred.
Gaudio followed up with Cooks Source and asked for a printed apology, as well as a $130 dollar donation to the Columbia School of Journalism as repayment. Unfortunately for Cooks Source, the editor Monica spoke to about her requests regarding the plagiarism handled the situation incredibly poorly, and stating that she should be happy they didn't just lift her whole article and slap someone else's name on it because everything on the internet is "public domain." These remarks stirred what has been a brutal backlash against Cooks Source on Facebook, and worse on Twitter.
There are two key lessons to take from the Cooks Source scandal:
First off, businesses should be prepared to handle public relations conflicts that arise from blogging, social media and the web in general. Obviously the best case scenario is that you don't have to worry about ever being caught stealing someone's content, but mistakes sometimes happen, and you should have a plan in place to resolve the conflict properly.
Secondly, be sure to note the opportunity blogging presents to businesses. This is especially true if you're a small business who sometimes overlooks blogging as a means of driving traffic to your website, which can generate new leads. You don't have to be a journalist or prolific writer to create great content that people will enjoy and share (in this case, they enjoyed it a little too much!). If that's not enough to get you to fire up your favorite blogging word processor, Hubspot has released a study which shows that businesses that blog actually have 55% more visitors to their website than those that don't - that's 55% more eyeballs on your product or service!