E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Corporate Blogging: Six Steps Help Ensure At-Work Blogs Are An Asset

Earlier on today, and through TailRank, I have come across an interesting article by Jennifer Whittier on the topic of corporate blogging: Corporate Blogging: Six Steps Help Ensure At-Work Blogs Are An Asset. It surely is a worth while article to go through specially for those folks out there who are planning to implement weblogging in their businesses to augment knowledge sharing and collaboration between knowledge workers and their clients. Reason being the fact that things may not be as easy as what other people may have been portraying all along. Indeed, corporate webloggers, as more and more are starting to come up, would need to follow a different set of guidelines in order to keep things on track and allow for that flow of the conversation(s) to run smooth and where everyone would benefit from it. Most companies out there, according to the article, haven’t considered implementing such guidelines, which basically means, in its due time, potential trouble ahead. It may not happen, for sure, but it may well happen. And for the latter case corporations would need to be ready to respond, otherwise the damage would be far too much and perhaps impossible to recover from.

That is the actual purpose of Corporate Blogging: Six Steps Help Ensure At-Work Blogs Are An Asset. An important read for those folks who are not sure how to get things started on the corporate weblogging world in order to help knowledge workers get the most of out it without causing much damage. In that particular article attorney James Erwin clearly indicates what would be some of the key steps to take into account whenever whatever business decides to embark on the weblogging experience in order to augment not only how people share their knowledge and experiences but also how they would communicate with others. There is no doubt that more and more businesses are seeing the many benefits of introducing weblogs to their knowledge workers, however, for the corporate webloggers there needs to be some guidance and James ventures into providing some really good tips, which you can find below:

  1. “Expressly include blogging within the same rules that govern acceptable use of email and Internet;
  2. Prohibit employees from disclosing or discussing any confidential or proprietary information;
  3. Remind employees that they are expected to be respectful of the company, its employees, its customers and its competitors; and are not to post material that contains harassing, discriminatory or threatening content, no matter when or where the blogging is conducted:
  4. Require employees to use their real name, not an alias, and; employees must make it clear that the views they express online are their own and not those of the employer. This policy adds credibility to the blog, as it will be viewed by readers as an independent source of information.
  5. Require that any reader responses to a blog be edited for profanity, harassing, discriminatory or threatening content directed toward the company, its employees, its customers, and its competitors.
  6. Create an agreement with each blogger as to the purpose of the blog, the amount of company time you will allow the blogger to devote to the practice, and any necessary restrictions regarding overtime compensation for off-site blogging.”

I certainly agree with James that following those initial steps people would be off to a good start and it would be a win-win situation for everyone. But perhaps things could be taken further a bit more and improve the overall experience. Certainly, corporate webloggers would need to have some guidelines about what is ok to publish and what isn’t, we all agree on that, but how about if instead of having the company creating that policy and set of guidelines it is actually the group of corporate webloggers themselves the ones defining and creating those guidelines? Would that work ? In my opinion, it would certainly work. More than anything else because of two key and important aspects: involvement and commitment.

Getting corporate webloggers involved from the very beginning in defining most of those guidelines would certainly help people get the message that their voices and opinions are very much heard in defining the policy that would then be used by themselves, so if they would feel comfortable with them throughout the whole process they would feel even more comfortable when the guidelines are out there and people start to follow them, since they were the first ones who put them together in the first place. So instead of being pushed top-down whatever the policy and guidelines on weblogging it is actually the webloggers who are in control of what those should be and how they themselves should follow them. Yes, I know, you see where I am going to, power to the people! Let them decide what they would want to follow and give them the freedom to define those guidelines. There is a great chance that they would actually follow them and help avoid whatever future confrontations or potential conflicts.

As an example, that is how the IBM Weblogging Policy and Guidelines was put together in the first place a few months ago. A bunch of us, corporate webloggers, got together, set up a wiki space and started sharing what we thought would be the best policies for ourselves to get started with weblogging efforts. And after a couple of weeks of constant updates the IBM Weblogging Policy and Guidelines was the end result. And from there onwards, and thinking about those guidelines, it is up to us to follow them accordingly. Or not. Our choice, indeed, but, at least, we know what we are up to and what the potential limits might be. If any. We decide.

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  1. These are sensible guidelines for corporate blogging on work time,
    but what can be done if employees on their own personal blogs created
    on their own personal time discuss specific conversations they have
    had with customers or speak negatively about their place of
    employment? What grounds, if any, does the employer have for
    dictating what an employee blogs about on their own time? Obviously, most
    employers do not typically attempt to govern employee speech or actions
    when off-duty, and most do not want to start doing that; however,
    the employee in these cases is creating a potential public relations
    nightmare for the employer.

  2. Thanks for the feedback comments, P. Fonseca, and for dropping by. Welcome to elsua!

    Fantastic input which perhaps comes to state how weblogging may not be as easy as what people would think and why weblogging may work for some folks it may not work for some others. I strongly believe that in most cases applying some common sense would be the main common rule to help clarify potential conflicts. I mean, which weblogger would start criticising different items / people that they themselves would probably not do in whatever other public scenario. I mean, I doubt someone using their common sense would venture into creating some further trouble knowing that it may have some sort of negative impact not only on his / her clients, but also his / her company and / or even themselves.

    However, even if people would decide to venture into entering that world I still think that if there are any company weblogging policy and guidelines they should be respected at all times. After all what harm could it cause to the webloggers. They are after all guidelines and with a purpose. Provide some sort of guidance for whenever people may feel they will venture into something else. Sometimes it would be better to think twice than to jump off on to it.

    That is why I feel it is very important for every single company to define very clearly their own weblogging policy and guidelines and help its webloggers to comply with those guidelines in order to avoid further conflicts. Like, for instance, help understand its webloggers that if they would want to follow that path they should perhaps use a disclaimer indicating so where the employer is certainly not responsible for whatever other harmful commentary. I know, not a perfect solution but something that would certainly need to be discussed between all parties to try to accommodate a situation where everyone wins.

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