There are many great reasons to start a business blog.  Business blogs help you develop better relationships with your customers, enhance your position as an expert and build a sense of community for your business.  But it is important for businesses to look before they leap with blogs.  Some of the legal issues may include employment law, copyright infringement, defamation and privacy issues.  Here are seven things to consider before starting your business blog:

1.  Get advice from in-house and/or outside legal counsel with a good understanding of technology and blog law.  This area of the law is changing at the speed of light.  Talk with a lawyer that can help you navigate your way through these issues.

2.  Update your employment policies to cover blogs.  Many companies have policies that cover Internet use, email, cell phones and other technologies.  But do your policies cover blogs?

3.  Develop a corporate blogging policy.  Sample policies include IBM, Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.  (Thanks to Kevin O’Keefe for his post on the sample policies).  Make sure that employees understand the consequences of violating the blogging policies.

4.  Train employees on the benefits and risks of blogging.

5.  Determine whether your blog will allow comments and how you will deal with the information gathered through the blog.  (There may be privacy issues associated with this information).

6.   Appoint someone who will be in charge of the company’s blog(s).

7.  Develop and implement a system to monitor your blog.  Learn how to use RSS feeds to do this effectively.

You should consider a blog for your business.  It is an incredible marketing and communication tool.  Just remember to start off with the appropriate preparation and planning in order to avoid the legal risks and liabilities associated with blogging.

See also this informative article on the Legal Risks of Blogging.

Update:  The Des Moines Register had a nice article on business blogging on December 24, 2006.  Some featured bloggers included accountant Joe Kristan of Roth & Co., Hispanic marketer Nanette Rodriguez of Vivamedia, blogging coach Mike Sansone of Converstations, patent attorney Brett Trout of Brett Trout, P.C. and me.  Check out these sites to see how blogs can be effective tools for your business.