One By One Media and Google: Companies with similar problems requiring similar solutions.

It’s approaching 1:00 a.m. as I sit down to finally put down my thoughts about the previous day’s events. This has been one of those whirlwind days that a small company owner dreads. I have posted before about the many hats of a professional blogger. A small business owner must also carry many hats. Today I was required to pull out the PR hat that companies sometimes need to correct a wrong, to provide a company position and to be a voice of a company that is in crisis. As a small business owner, I am confident when I say any crisis be it big or small is a difficult crisis if a plan is not made to address those issues.

As I woke in the morning and I tried to shake off the 4 hours of sleep from my eyes that resulted in my turning in at 3:30 a.m. the night before. As is my practice, I began my morning with coffee and email, and yes, usually in that order. I was presented with an email from Brian Clark at Copyblogger. The email was short, to the point, and wasted no time in what was happening. The email wanted to alert me to the fact that Brian had discovered that our One By One Media blog and the blog at Bloggers For Hire had CSS that had been used “without attribution or permission” and he wanted to know what my statement was to the matter. My heart sunk. Part of my problem was that I first had to figure out what it was that was being stated. I am not at all part of the technical team here and whenever they begin to discuss software and platforms and applications, it’s usually a sign for me to begin reading my materials on what I have to do that day. This day was different. This was a problem that was created by my own company. I had to pay attention and I needed to investigate what was happening immediately. I was in conversation with my technical people before I had even allowed my coffee to cool.

I sent a response to Brian letting him know that I was appreciative of his email alerting me to the situation. I also wanted to let him know that if what he had said was true, I would get to the bottom of it and get back to him, and apologies were in order.. My heart sunk again as I was told, that yes in fact, the CSS of our blogs had indeed been used without the permission of its designer or without providing attribution to the person that had provided the code we were using. Before my discussion had ended we were already working on taking down the site to make sure we did not further carry out our transgression. I knew now that this would be a time to practice what I have been preaching for so long to customers and to clients. I would have to face the music and not only apologize to those involved, but also take responsibility for this occurring on my watch, and finally, I would have to swallow that pill publicly for all to see (my public comment to Brian is posted in the comments to his article on the matter).

I would like to commend everyone for their graciousness in dealing with this situation and to again apologize to them for having been a part of this issue. Each of the people I spoke to were professional, understanding, and up front about their thoughts on the matter. Brian was satisfied enough to edit his post, and to his credit, does not want to further tarnish any of the wrongdoers. I for one would say that in their remorse and mine, a lesson was well learned and that we assure everyone that this will not be an issue in the future.

After the day I have had, it is ironic that a company the size of Google might be faced with the same PR problem as revealed in Jeremy Zawodny’s post. It is good to learn that Scoble’s advice to Google, mirrors somewhat my apology posted in Brian’s comments.

It’s the little things that define companies and Google is being defined right in front of us. ~ Robert Scoble

Although in my mind I did not, and still don’t, consider the day’s events as “little”, I would agree that I hope I have been able to publicly define my company. Google, it’s time for you to implement the same action.

UPDATE (1:48 a.m.): In the amount of time it took for me to compose this article, Matt Cutts of Google, has posted a public apology. It looks as though Matt may be having a similar sleepless night. I also found that TechCrunch has stated that Google has addressed the first stage by taking down the copied page. Obviously, I will have to run hard and fast to keep up with the news.

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Comments

  1. Sara says:

    I think it’s great that you looked into it, confirmed it, and rectified it. And no, I don’t think you or your company is alone in this. There was recently a good discussion on Concept Theft and designs going on at: http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/showthread.php?t=438511

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