The A-2-Z of business blog writing: R is for Rants

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Shouting your anger via a blog post will certainly grab the attention of your readers

Do you ever get so annoyed about something in business that you just have to write it all down in a blog post? Something that makes you seethe with rage so much you simply can’t wait to share it with your readers and customers?

Certainly, a lively rant is attention grabbing

Even if you manage to leave out the swearwords, shouting your anger via a blog post will certainly grab the attention of your readers and anyone else who happens to come across your post via SocMed or other networking platform.

But you need to watch you don’t grab attention for the wrong reasons.

To begin with, be very conscious of defamation laws (see the expert’s view below). No matter how justified you may feel in doing a thorough demolition job on a company or individual, their lawyers might not agree with you. Don’t buy yourself trouble that you don’t need.

Bear in mind that some companies and business people might even see an occasion like this as an opportunity to launch a lawsuit which will gain them publicity and possibly even a lot of your money, too.

Never publish your rant when you’re angry

…or if you’ve had a few drinks to calm yourself down. You’d be surprised at how cringe-making you can find an article or post the next morning, when the night before you thought it was the best thing you have ever written. Use the cold, harsh light of day to help you edit out the libelous bits.

Many psychologists and counselors advise you to write a letter to or article about someone expressing your anger / hurt / frustration / resentment / etc. as a means of getting it off your chest. You’re then expected to delete the whole thing, which strikes me as a waste of time. If you’re that p*ssed off it’s more productive to go mow the lawn or vacuum clean your house. Those will work off your anger and be useful as well.

If you feel you genuinely need to share your rant

rants,blogging,writing,anger,law,defamation,libel,slander

It may feel like a natural reaction
to lash out

Once you’ve cooled off about it and given it a bit of time, you may still feel you should share your unfortunate experience with your readers and customers, as they might benefit from the warning. This is when you should examine your article carefully for legal tripwires and tone down any strong language.

You need to check this with your legal adviser, but as far as I can see it you are entitled to express your own personal opinion online about pretty much anything you want. Where the problems can arise is when you suggest or state derogatory things about a person or company unless, of course, it is true. And ideally, you should be able to provide evidence that it’s true.

The expert’s view

“When things get heated it may feel like a natural reaction to lash out and tell a business exactly what you think but do be careful not to find yourself on the receiving end of a defamation claim,” says Steph Barber** of the UK’s popular Law Hound online legal services firm. “Defamation is a word which covers both libel (something more permanent so a written blog, but also images or other electronic media and broadcasts or links) and slander (more transient such as speech).

The law of defamation doesn’t give us a single definition of what would actually be defamatory but instead, will consider your post taking into account “the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally”. So, taking a common sense approach, avoid posting anything which is likely to:

  • discredit the business or any individuals within it
  • make people think worse of them
  • lower them in the estimation of others
  • mean that they are avoided, shunned or exposed to ridicule, contempt or hatred
rants,blogging,writing,anger,law,defamation,libel,slander

Remember that a court will take an objective view

…by those “right-thinking members of society generally”

In reality, it means that you really need to think carefully about what you post.

However, the law of defamation is currently undergoing changes and so a business will have to prove that a defamatory statement has caused or is likely to cause them serious financial loss, but, if they can for example, show a loss of orders, this may not be so difficult to prove. For a micro business that has no accounts to show and few clients, it’s much harder to make a case.

There are defenses available to any potential claim so, for example, you could rely on a defense of honest opinion, provided you meet the criteria. However, remember that a court will take an objective view.”

blog,writing,news,blogging,business,Suzan St Maur,howtowritebetter.net,how to write betterPlease bear in mind that this advice is based on UK law – laws in other countries may vary, but the basic principles are likely to be similar.

Have you ever published a rant on your blog or elsewhere?

Please share your experiences!

**Steph Barber completed her legal training in the North West before setting up her own specialist commercial and medical negligence law firm, then sold it in 2000 before joining Law Hound to head up its commercial law department and has developed Law Hound’s online legal services. Steph specializes in legal processes and transitioning to online delivery and has a particular interest in defamation. She is also a co-founder of digital marketing consultancy AspensDigital.com and can be contacted on +44 (0) 161 726 0012.

 

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