Blogging Policies: A Couple Made For Marriage

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Last week, Michael Hyatt, President and COO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian publishing company in the world …

… and the ninth largest publishing company of any kind, wrote about launching a ‘corporate blog aggregator site’ which would link individual employees’ blogs.

Michael says:

Like many companies, we have struggled with what guidance to give to our bloggers. I personally checked with several companies. None had formalized a set of blogging rules or written guidance. One Microsoft blogger told me that the only rule his company provided was, “Be smart.” I thought we probably needed a little more guidance than that, so several of us cooked up a list of “Blogging Terms and Conditions.” Our corporate counsel has also had a crack at it.

He then posts the 14-point draft of the ‘Thomas Nelson Blog Terms and Conditions’ and asks for comments.

I don’t think anyone would disagree that a policy or set of guidelines for employee blogging is an essential item to have as blogging continues to spread, either as a specific set of guidelines such as this or incorporated in some way into existing organization policy. There are plenty of commentaries on many blogs and websites about high-profile cases during the past six months of employees who have lost their jobs either as a direct result of blogging or in relation to it. In all cases, the lack of clear guidelines on what’s allowed by employees and what’s not has been a big feature.

As a formal and legally-reviewed document, the Thomas Nelson conditions would likely be similar to the type of document that many organizations would go for when looking at setting the ground rules for employee blogging.

Yet I have to say that I just love the approach taken in a rather different set of guidelines to blogging at work, offered by Tom Reynolds, an Emergency Medical Technician with the London Ambulance Service.

Also writing last week, Tom posts a highly readable guide on How to Blog and Not Lose Your Job – version 1.0. My favourite bit:

Just because you blog, it doesn’t make you special. Sure, you might have 10,000 pagehits a day, you are Slashdotted on a regular basis and you have Dave Weiner’s [sic] home phone number – but that means nothing to your boss. Blogging doesn’t bring with it a Get Out Of Jail Free’ card, you have no Freedom of the Press’, and just because thousands of people hang on your every word – it doesn’t mean that they will help you keep your job. Blogging grants you no immunity to normal disciplinary procedures. Sorry about that.

Tom’s guidelines are conversational, informal, somewhat tongue-in-cheek and very much based on common sense. Would it get past the lawyers in any organization? Probably not.

But if you could marry Tom’s and Michael’s together – all the points, all the informality and the conversational approach: just like blogging itself – then you’ll have something that I think any employee in any organization, anywhere, couldn’t have a problem with. Nor could the employer.

What a step forward that would be!

Neville Hobson is the author of the popular NevilleHobson.com blog which focuses on business communication and technology.

Neville is currentlly the VP of New Marketing at Crayon. Visit Neville Hobson’s blog: NevilleHobson.com.

Blogging Policies: A Couple Made For Marriage
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