Corporate Blogging – Pitfalls And Guidelines
It is widely recognized that blogging is one way to easily add new content to a website, and a number of corporates are embracing the idea with gusto. Not only are there companies that do corporate blogging, but in lots of cases it is not just the CEO or the marketing manager who blogs, but the actual employees of the company itself. Google and Microsoft are just two companies that allow and/or support their employees in their blogging. But the whole idea is fraught with pitfalls. The problem is the conflict between confidentiality and openness and quite a number of blogging employees have been fired recently for inappropriate blogging behavior.
Questions that are raised and that contribute to the problems around corporate blogging are some of the following:
How much should employees be allowed to say about the internal workings of the company? Certainly, Coke-Cola will not be pleased if an employee blurts out the formula for Coke on the company blog for the whole world to see.
Likewise, should employees be allowed to criticize the company or their direct management? Some companies allow this, some do not. Another question that must be asked is how much time employees should be allowed to spend on blogging. Is this seen as part of their job descriptions, should it form part of their formal job output models?
It is clear that companies that venture into the corporate blogging arena would be wise to follow some other large corporate’s examples and draw up blogging guidelines. These blogging guidelines should state clearly the boundaries within which the employee should operate, but it should not be so strict as to stifle any creativity or place a complete ban on the activity, nor make it so cumbersome to get permission to say something that it becomes virtually impossible to keep a personal feel to the blog and it merely becomes another official corporate mouthpiece.
Corporate blogging is a great way to add content to a corporate website, to attract new customers, to publish more content regarding company products, services and events and in general to add a more human feel to a company website – but some guidelines are necessary to protect both the company and the employee respectively from blogging themselves into bankruptcy or unemployment!
The following guidelines have been taken from various corporate blogging rules that are published – they might be a good starting point for any company thinking of allowing its employees to blog:
- Do not criticize other products or competitors.
- Make it clear that you are stating your own opinion, and not necessarily that of the company.
- If in doubt, discuss it with a colleague or your manager
- Do not share company secrets (e.g. secret processes or formulas, or things such as potential mergers, takeovers, or anything that can be seen as confidential information)
- Do not blatantly use the blog as a platform for overtly selling the company products. The blog is not the right place for that. Be informative and authentic.
- Do not cite customers or partners without their approval
- And quite important – do not venture personal opinions on politics, race or religious issues – respect your reader.