The fact that the ADR world has largely failed to discover blogging is a surprise to me. There are only, at least so far as I can tell, eight blogs solely devoted to ADR. Eight. Out of some 12 million blogs worldwide.
That’s surprising. People in the dispute resolution field are communication mavens. One of the classics in our field is called Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. We run programs with names like “The Public Conversations Project”. (There’s that word “conversations” again.) People hire us when they’re having trouble talking to each other. We provide the lubricant that keeps the discourse engine humming.
So how come there aren’t more of us blogging?
I don’t have the answer to that question. I can guess. Many of us are technology-averse. We prefer face-to-face contact, the personal touch. Many of us distrust online dispute resolution—which relies upon technology as a “fourth party” in the process—and are troubled, perhaps, by the fact that technology itself presumes to mediate among the parties and the mediator. Meanwhile, those of us who are mediation trainers pride ourselves that we continue to use flip-charts and magic markers in a PowerPoint age. (And I confess that I am one of those.)
Okay, let’s put aside the question of why so many ADR professionals are distrustful of technology. (That’s a post for another day.)
Let’s instead talk about my main purpose in writing this article: 5 reasons why ADR professionals should start blogging now.
Reason No. 1: Blogging makes you smarter.
It’s true. Successful blogging requires research. So bloggers surf the web, cruising for news. We’re Internet blood-hounds, tracking down the elusive scent of stories that will pique the curiosity of our readers. That constant prowling alerts us to stories, trends, breaking news in our field—and even in fields that have nothing whatsoever to do with our blog’s focus, which, I would argue, makes us well-rounded individuals. (My blog-buddy Dina Beach Lynch, publisher of Mediation Mensch, describes this as Alice’s pursuit down the rabbit-hole.) (Side benefit: bloggers grow better informed about their own field and simultaneously become masters of trivia as well. You’ll never be at a loss for words at cocktail parties again.)
Reason No. 2: Blogging can be a great marketing tool.
By definition a blog is updated frequently—that means that our readers are kept informed, and can therefore infer that we keep our fingers on the pulse of our profession—that we are, in short, paying attention. And who would you want to hire—a professional who’s behind the times, or someone who’s on top of the latest developments?
And, like a common-garden-variety web site, your blog continues to work while you’re going about your day job or catching up on your Z’s. It provides 24-hour optimal efficiency. Regardless of when a post is published, readers can access it to suit their time zone. While the blogger in Boston sleeps, the subscriber in Bangalore reads.
(Since informed decision-making is important in mediation, I invite you to consider differing perspectives on the effectiveness of blogs as marketing tools discussed at Robert Ambrogi’s Lawsites blog, along with comments posted by Kevin O’Keefe, pioneering founder of LexBlog, a company providing blogging solutions for lawyers.)
Reason No. 3: Blogging increases your visibility.
Everyone wants to boost their search engine rankings (at least anyone who realizes how important the Internet has become to information dissemination and communication and commerce). And search engines love blogs because of the frequency with which their content is updated.
Reason No. 4: Blogs are a great way to share what you learn.
This is one of the great things about blogging. You find out all kinds of great information (see Reason No. 1, above) (of varying degrees of usefulness), which you then get to share with your readers. Bloggers are citizen journalists, reporting on news and information that busy readers are unlikely to find on their own. Think of it as providing a public service.
Reason No. 5: Blogging is all about community and conversation. (Hint: A lot like ADR.)
If our goal as dispute resolution professionals is to build relationships, promote community, and establish dialogue, then blogging is the brave new world of the ADR field. Here’s a vast frontier for us to discover together, in which we can reach out to each other, connecting ideas and conversations.
So, come on, all you conflict resolvers out there. What are you waiting for? Come on in, the water’s fine.