Thursday, July 8, 2010

Electronic Publishing is Risky Business

When I started my career in trade publishing, things were much simpler. There was no Internet, no e-mail, and computers had a little more memory than a calculator (it at least seemed that way). While working for Hotel & Motel Management magazine, I was part of an effort to produce a print publication approximately twice a month. Things occasionally did go wrong but usually errors were minor. If you did not catch a mistake before the publication was printed, it was too late.

In today's world of electronic publishing, where everything is constantly "live" and can be updated or changed easily, it is easier to correct mistakes. However, the electronic world presents its own challenges as well and any travel-related business dipping its toes into electronic publishing needs to be careful.

As most of you know, I produce an electronic newsletter each week. I recently redesigned the newsletter along with the Green Lodging News website. As part of this transition, I began to work with a new company that distributes electronic newsletters. Everything went fine the first couple of weeks. Yesterday, however, I received an e-mail from the company claiming that someone on my list had been spammed with my newsletter. Turns out this person represents an organization called Spamhaus. I had never heard of Spamhaus and of course I do not intentionally spam anyone. In fact, anyone not wishing to receive my newsletter can opt out with one easy click.

Because of this one person making a spam claim, my account was shut down. I will certainly find another company to use but the lesson learned here is that no matter how clean your e-mail distribution list is, you are always vulnerable to spam claims--whether because of the efforts of a competitor, an unhappy customer or reader, or someone (a guest) who happened to forget that they signed up for your e-mail publication.

Electronic publishing is a risky world indeed. The lesson learned here? Always have a backup plan. Just one person clicking a spam button can stop you in your tracks.

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