You Don’t Need a Blog to Have a Blog Policy

The title says it all.

Maybe a blog isn’t right for your company.  Maybe you don’t have anyone in-house who can step up and be the voice for the firm, the agent of engagement.  But you do need a blog policy, pronto.

Cisco is now in hot water because one of its employees was running an anonymous blog tracking so-called “patent trolls.” When a site is official and transparent, there is no confusion about loyalties or the source of information.  When employees are engaging in underground behavior, their actions can be tied back to you down the road.  That applies to sites they run, administer, or even participate in commenting.

Sun, Yahoo, IBM, and many other companies have publicly available policies.  There are many other resources available to help you craft one.

You may never have a corporate blog.  But you have employees who do, and they comment on things that interest them.  A clear policy can be the firewall that keeps your corporate interests out of the flames.

(Ike Pigott regularly writes at Occam’s RazR)

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  1. Ike:

    What about the other side of the coin? What about the pseudonymous public health preparedness blogger who wants to protect his employer even as he realizes that his employer will never take the time to craft a blog policy?

    Anything a person in that particular situation could do to protect both himself and his employer? Do the links deal with this situation? Maybe some sort of a disclosure statement?

    Keep up the good work,

    PS. I’m watching you on Twitter, and the fun you’re having is infectious. I might pop into the conversation someday.

  2. Hey Jimmy…

    I prescribe “artificial sunlight.” By that, I mean look at what you write through the lens of “What if I were outed tomorrow?” If you’re still publishing material that won’t get you or your employer, then you are most likely okay.

    The problem Cisco faces is that the Patent Troll Hunter had made and supported many statements that would end up tilting opinion in Cisco’s favor. In retrospect, it might be argued he was advancing a corporate agenda, and as such, the company might be liable for some of the claims he made (like accusing lawyers of backdating documents, a big no-no.)

    With no clear policy in place, your employer is allowing far too many gray areas. Those are more their concern than yours.

    Shoot me an email — I actually know a guy that might have some advice for you.

  3. Thanks Ike.

    For the sake of your readers, I’ll respond here, but also follow up over email.

    The question of “What if I were outed tomorrow?” is a constant thought. I intentionally distance (read: fudge) my posts from my job. While I have posted on events that we’ve been part of, I make sure to only quote and take inspiration from publicly available documents.

    My situation is, of course, different than our Patent Troll Hunter friend, as you said, because of the effects of his posts. My posts are almost always couched in the desire to improve public health preparedness and homeland security. To that end, pointing out flaws is little more than a step in the process.

    It’s kind of frustrating, though, to have most of my online persona devoted to transparency and open access–while posting as pseudonymously. I do feel like I’m shortchanging my readers and de-valuing my message. I hope to one day broach this subject with our Communications Director, and having an official blog policy would be a great way to start that conversation.

    Thanks again, and I’ll have an email out to you later tonight sometime.