By Katherine R. Hutt, APR
President and Founder
Nautilus Communications, Inc.

Did you read in The Washington Post (February 6, 2004) that the Post somehow forgot to renew one of its two critical domain names (the one that all the reporters use for e-mail) and their entire internal operation shut down for more than a day until it could be resolved? It was a simple, stupid mistake - one that is made every day by companies large and small. If it can happen to The Washington Post, it could happen to your company or organization.

You may have heard me preach this before - it is imperative that you own and control your own domain name. Do not let your technical provider or your Web designer hold title to this important piece of your intellectual property. I've struggled three times in the past year with helping clients wrest their own domain name away from someone else who was controlling it. Even when the deal is amicable, the technical glitches are numerous.

The Post owned the domain name in question (, so what happened? Well, it's another common problem - the person who originally registered the domain name no longer works for the company and the e-mail invoices are going into the cyberspace equivalent of a dead letter box. I've seen that, too, which is why I always recommend that you have at least two and preferably three different contacts on your domain registration (usually "administrative," "billing" and "technical"). If possible, one of the three should be, as long as you will always have someone who is responsible for your "info" mailbox. Get into the habit of checking your domain registration information once a year (maybe when you do your taxes, renew your lease or take care of some other routine administrative process) and making updates as needed.

Your domain name is an important brand for your company, and e-mail and the Web are undoubtedly vital to your day-to-day operations. Learn from the Post's mistake! If you aren't sure whether or not you own your own domain name, or if you aren't sure how to check, call me. I'll show you how to check and advise you on how to clean up any potential problems.

The fine print: This article is Copyright 2004 by Nautilus Communications, Inc. It may be reproduced with attribution and a link to our Web site at

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