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Niche Business-to-Business Weblogs Gaining Traction
Nation’s First Insurance Weblog - Workers Comp Insider –
Marks Two-Year Anniversary

BOSTON (Sept. 21, 2005) – More than 17 million weblogs have been created since the first “blogs” surfaced in the late 1990s but, until recently, most were personal or hobbyist sites. Since the 2004 campaign season, political blogs have mushroomed in popularity, surprising many with the strong role they played in grassroots organization and fundraising.

Businesses have been slower to join the ranks of bloggers, but some niche business-to-business weblog “communities” are evolving. Workers Comp Insider launched the nation’s first insurance blog two years ago, and since that time, a network of insurance-related blogs has emerged.

When Lynch, Ryan & Associates (Lynch Ryan) launched Workers Comp Insider (http://www.workerscompinsider.com) in September 2003, President and CEO Tom Lynch and his staff thought it might be a good tool for communicating with their client employers and insurers. On its two-year anniversary, the site is now logging 10,000 visitors a month, encompassing employers, insurers, brokers, physicians, attorneys, unions, and injured workers. The blog also earned a “Best of the Web” designation from Business Insurance.

“As a weblog, we were pioneers both in our topical area, and in business weblogs in general,” Lynch said. “Workers’ comp is a business issue that touches every employer in the country, as well as all injured workers, yet it is often misunderstood. We thought that a weblog might be the ideal platform to educate our clients using real examples from the daily news.”

This is not the first time Lynch Ryan has broken new ground in workers’ compensation. In the mid 1980s, Lynch Ryan introduced a system of employer-based management controls including post-injury management and early return-to-work, principles that were later widely adopted by the industry.

Workers’ compensation is a mandatory insurance for employers, with legal, medical, and risk management repercussions. Consequently, Workers Comp Insider’s postings cover a broad range of business topics. Some recent posts have dealt with contract workers, guns in the workplace, obesity and healthcare costs, worker deaths from the BP explosion, and the “Coingate” scandal involving the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation. The blog also covers more traditional insurance topics such as safety, claims practices, and pricing trends, as well as serving as a filter for online insurance resources.

In reflecting on the blog’s two-year anniversary, Lynch noted that the Workers Comp Insider has yielded some unexpected benefits. Although it was not designed to be a sales tool, Lynch Ryan has gained several new clients who were first introduced to the company as weblog readers. It’s also become a source for reporters, generating several media inquiries. Lynch Ryan also uses weblog postings as handouts when conducting risk management trainings. “Our blog has become a primary communication tool with current and future clients,” said Lynch.

Insurance-related weblogs: An emerging community

In launching Workers Comp Insider, staff looked for related insurance blogs to include in the site’s “blogroll” and was surprised to find that national insurance blogs were virtually nonexistent. Two years later, however, a thriving community is emerging.

Among the early adopters in the insurance industry was Lynch Ryan’s colleague, Joseph Paduda of Health Strategy Associates, Inc. A topic expert in the business of healthcare, workers’ compensation, and managed care, Paduda often authors articles and speaks on business healthcare issues. Paduda launched Managed Care Matters (http://www.joepaduda.com) nearly a year ago, and has been gratified by the results.

“Blogging forces me to stay on top of the industry on a daily basis,” Paduda commented. “The vast quantity of content is intimidating, but the incentive of finding a timely blog topic keeps me reading and opining.”

Paduda, who was already writing articles for industry publications before launching Managed Care Matters, likes the blog format. “It’s short and gives me a chance to comment on the news and communicate my perspectives to clients and prospects directly,” he said.

Most of Paduda’s clients faithfully follow his blog, considering it a one-stop shop for industry news. Some prospects have found him by searching for topics cited on the blog. Like Lynch Ryan, Paduda has received media inquiries from his blog, leading to quotes in such publications as CFO Magazine.

“A blog gives journalists a chance to evaluate your perspectives and industry expertise,” Paduda noted.

Other insurance/healthcare business blogs are:

Actuarial News (http://www.actuarialnews.org/) and (http://www.actuary.net/) - weblog and news feed from D.W. Simpson & Company.

Specialty insurance (http://specialtyinsurance.typepad.com/) - weblog by Bob Sargent, president of Tennant Risk Services.

Risk Prof (http://riskprof.typepad.com/tort/) - weblog by Martin Grace, Professor of Risk Management and Insurance, Georgia State University.

Confined Space (http://spewingforth.blogspot.com) - safety and labor advocate Jordan Barab covers issues related to worker health and safety.

PAWC (http://www.pawc.blogspot.com/) - weblog by Robert Vonada, a judge in the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers Compensation.

Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer (http://employerslawyer.blogspot.com/) - weblog by Texas-based labor and employment attorney Michael Fox.

The Health Care Blog (http://matthewholt.typepad.com/the_health_care_blog/) - healthcare policy and business-related issues from consultant Matthew Holt.

George's Employment Blawg (http://employmentblawg.blogspot.com/) - labor and employment law blog founded by Missouri attorney George Lenard.

Disabled Worker Law (http://www.disabledworkerlaw.com/ ) - resource for injured workers from New York law firm Turley, Redmond & Rosasco.