Julian, over at Exceler8ion, discusses corporate blogging policies. I’m with Julian. I’d be hard-pressed to find a corporate blogging policy longer than a sentence or 2 that doesn’t totally stink.
I think that if you dig beneath all the wordy lists of “dos” and “don’ts”, what you actually find are companies that want their employees to blog and companies that feel like they have to let their employees blog. Seriously:
Companies that want their employees to blog see an opportunity to connect with customers/partners outside the traditional sales cycle
Companies that want their employees to blog value transparency
Companies that want their employees to blog feel confident that they have hired good people they can trust (you know I had to somehow make this a little bit about staffing, right?)
Companies that want their employees to blog fear inertia more than criticism
Companies that want their employees to blog understand that the market shapes perception and that they lack 100% control over that
On the other hand, some companies feel like they *have to* let their employees blog, much to their discomfort because other companies are doing it, because their employees want to do it. But they fear it because
…they can’t control the message
…they don’t trust their employees to blog responsibly
…they don’t understand how blogging can inform product development or marketing
…they fear criticism…out there…in the open for anyone to see (is self-criticism out of the question?)
My opinion (which all of this is), is simply that if you can’t trust your folks to blog, then don’t have them blog for work. It’s not for everyone…consider your corporate culture. But make an informed decision based on an understanding of the medium and it’s potential value to your organization. When I look at some of these blog policies, I try to think about how my blogging would change if I had to apply them. It’s not necessarily any one policy that concerns me but that, taken together, they seem to represent a fear of allowing employees to blog. As if to say: “we don’t really want you to blog, but if you must, follow these vague rules”. Telling people not to violate agreements they have signed? Duh! You can’t disclose proprietary information? Duh! No obscene material? Wait while I delete a post I’ve been working on.
I guess my position is that if you need to spell it out for people this plainly, you really don’t trust them to blog in the first place and/or you need to raise your hiring bar. Are you trying to scare them off blogging? Giving yourself something to point to if you don’t like what they say? I’m not trying to criticize any one company; I just don’t buy into these extensive blogging policies.
I prefer the “don’t do anything stupid” policy, which assumes (hopefully based on proof) that you hire smart people. Though Julian’s phrasing matches my inner snark dialog a little better ; )