Many employers have wondered whether or not it is a good idea to let their employees write blogs, worried that they may criticise the firm unduly, voice opinions that create a bad impression of the company, or worse still get it into legal hot water.
With the right ground rules in place none of these should be insurmountable, but what are the right ground rules? Below are some suggested top tips from Bit10 Ltd, a UK-based firm that offers various services such as website design; usability and accessibility testing and consultancy; web site performance analytics and so on.
What do you think of these – do you agree with them all? I’m not so sure about number 4: is it a good idea for an employee blogger to be free to accept advertising from third parties?
Anyway, see what you think:
Top Internal Blogging Tips (courtesy of Bit10 Ltd)
1. Write as yourself
Employees should use their real names and should not write anonymously or under a pseudonym. This will add credibility with their readers and promote accountability within your company. Employees should use their own voice; bring their own personality to the forefront; say what is on their mind.
2. Own your content
Employee blog sites are not company communications. They represent your employees’ thoughts and opinions. Employees should remind their readers of this fact and be made to assume full responsibility and liability for all actions arising from their posts.
3. Keep it fresh
Blogs should be written often. Whether they know it or not, your employees are experts. Employees have a unique perspective on your company based on their talents, skills, and current responsibilities. People want to hear about that perspective. Also, in order to develop a consistent readership, you should encourage them to write on a regular basis. The important thing is consistent posting. New content is what keeps readers coming back.
While there is no requirement to run ads on their blogs, you should let staff know that they are free to do this if they wish. However, services such as banner exchanges or Google’s AdSense where you do not have complete control over the look and content of the adverts being displayed should not be allowed.
The look, feel and configuration of the blog should be entirely up to the employee. All you should ask for is that your company logo is displayed near the top with a link back to the main company website.
6. Be nice
Instruct your employees to avoid attacking other individuals or companies. This includes fellow employees, authors, customers, vendors, competitors, or shareholders.
7. Keep secrets
Employees should be warned not to disclose sensitive, proprietary, confidential, or financial information about your company, other than what is publicly available in your corporate press releases. Clients, partners or suppliers should not be cited or obviously referenced without their approval.
8. Respect copyrights
For your protection, make sure that employees do not post any material that is copyrighted unless:
(a) they are the copyright owner,
(b) they have written permission of the copyright owner to post the copyrighted material on your blog, or
(c) they are sure that the use of any copyrighted material is permitted by the legal doctrine of “fair use.”
9. Obey the law
Staff should be reminded not to post any material that is obscene, defamatory, profane, libellous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful, embarrassing to another person or entity, or violates the privacy rights of another. Also, they should not post material that contains viruses, Trojan horses, worms etc.
10. Remember the Handbook
As a condition of their employment, they have agreed to abide by the rules of the company Staff Handbook. This also applies to their blogging activities. Remind them to review it!