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March 07, 2006

Six Apart To Sell Business-Friendly Blogging Tools

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Six Apart announced business-oriented update options to its popular Movable Type blogging software and its hosted blogging service, TypePad.

The company's new TypePad Business Class offering caters to organizations that want to post blogs without a lot of involvement from their IT departments. It supports four distinct administrator roles for publishing oversight and management, enterprise-oriented bandwidth allowances, and invoicing options and comes with technical support. It includes improved spam controls and the ability to map company domain names to Six Apart's external hosted service.

Movable Type Enterprise, a new version of Six Apart's server-based blogging software for businesses, includes the ability to integrate with corporate databases like Oracle 10g, MySQL, and Postgres. It also features support for enterprise authentication services like LDAP, comment management, customizable E-mail integration, and enhanced technical support options.

Blogging has increasingly caught the eye of businesses, both as an internal communications tool and for reaching suppliers, partners, or customers. Blogs "have taken off because they're the tools people want to use," says Anil Dash, VP of professional products for Six Apart.

Six Apart's blogging software appears to be quite popular in the business world already. The company claims that over 75% of the Fortune 500 companies with blogs use Movable Type or TypePad. Its list of clients includes Adobe, Amazon, Boeing, Cisco, eBay, EMI Music, Fuji, General Motors, Motorola, MSNBC, Nissan Motor, Oracle Japan, Proctor & Gamble, Viacom, Visa, Wal-Mart, Xerox, and Yahoo, to name a few.

Through his Web design company, Monkey Do, Tim Murtaugh and his business partner Michael Pick developed the Seed Magazine Web site using Movable Type. Murtaugh subsequently became technology director for the site.

Presented with a tight deadline and budget to get the magazine launched, Murtaugh says he chose Movable Type over other content management systems because Movable Type makes site updates easy and intuitive for anyone. "The learning curve for a generic [content management system] is much higher," he says. "Another reason we settled on Movable Type is the number of features it provides out of the box, such as commenting, trackbacks, RSS generation, E-mail a friend, and so on. The features built into the heart of a blog are fantastic for other media sites to help push content and encourage user participation."

Murtaugh says he isn't yet familiar with the new enterprise-friendly features in Movable Type, but he notes that he didn't find the version he's using limiting. "Everything we wanted to do [with Movable Type], we were able to do," he says.

The involvement of more and more companies in blogging hasn't been without controversy. Despite the fact that a number of noted bloggers began as or became media insiders, many people still naively assume that blogging is somehow unsullied by the commercial influence evident in journalism and marketing. Few seem to recognize that blogging is publishing, nothing more and nothing less.

In his own blog, Richard Edelman, president and CEO of the PR firm that bears his surname, acknowledges The New York Times' criticism that bloggers have been posting information supplied by Edelman on behalf of Wal-Mart without identifying where it came from. Bloggers, he concedes, "should attribute specific content to a company or another blogger if used verbatim."

At the same time, he makes it clear that blogs are now part of the corporate communications arsenal. "We encourage all our clients to reach out to the blogosphere," he writes in his blog. "It should be part of any smart communications program. We also encourage our clients to blog themselves. Blogs are often a more effective way for companies to have a conversation with their audiences that is dynamic, personalized, two-way and prominently displayed in search. Of course we give information to bloggers, just as PR people for generations have done with print media, and I'm a little surprised that the print and broadcast media are surprised."

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