« Poor Management Cause of Low Productivity? | Main | What it takes to be a good CEO blogger »


It is indeed important to have guidelines for corporate blogging. They should at the very least contain rules such as:

1) Don't badmouth the competition
2) Don't badmouth fellow employees
3) Don't use profanity - keep some level of professionalism
4) Know what unannounced products can or cannot be discussed (particularly important for public companies)
5) Don't plagarize/use others' content without attribution
6) Use common sense. When in doubt, ask.

This is exactly why we offer our clients legal training, from our partner who is a media lawyer and very informed on the latest developments in 'bloglaw'. One of the concerns that holds a lot of companies back from taking the leap into blogging is the fear of what their employees might say that could be actionable. This is a valid concern - a corporate blogger probably won't get away with the same things that a blogger operating as John Q Public, under his own steam, would get away with. Much of it is common sense, but knowing that an employee has been trained in how not to libel people, why and how to avoid giving away trade secrets, what constitutes fair use in quoting the work of others, etc can make the move to blogging a lot more comfortable for those calling the shots.

I would say, though, that I think it is okay to 'badmouth' the competition - as long as it is done in a respectful and professional way. (I wouldn't use the word 'badmouth'; 'criticise,' certainly.) It is important to be as fair as possible, and also to praise the competition when appropriate. A good blogger, properly versed in the art of blogging, will know how to strike that balance.

> ... we offer our clients legal training,
> from our partner who is a media lawyer
> and very informed on the latest
> developments in 'bloglaw'.

I understand that it's important for a company to avoid legal troubles.
But what I love in blog is free speach.

In my opinion, "corporate blogs" are not real blogs. Technicaly it's true.

But 4 me the idee of blog is freedom.
If there no "soul" inside the machine, I'm not interested.

Do you think I'm too naive ?

>But 4 me the idee of blog is freedom.
>If there no "soul" inside the machine, I'm not interested.

>Do you think I'm too naive ?

I don’t think you are too naive. But I don’t think, that a corporate blog cannot develop a "soul" or a certain spirit.

Free speech is one thing - you can’t have that here in all expects. It is simply impossible to report product features that are top secret. It is not possible to tell details about upcoming projects/clients/marketing events and such.

But it is possible to give a close impression about the corporate culture and identity. The way people think in the company.

And it is possible to communicate instances of products/projects that are already launched. Why not give the readers more and better details of how these things work? How they can be optimized etc..

I personally think, there is so much to tell, that the 5 percent that maybe confidential, don’t make that problem.

As Jackie pointed out, the employees have to keep these things confidential in their private environment, too.

I'd like to see the day when as few details as possible are confidential. For example, engaging your customers in "public product development" via blog/wiki sharing at early stages is a great idea. This won't work in all industries, but if we reject the idea that everything HAS to be secret, I think new forms of collaboration and development will arise.

Why have 10 companies working on the same darn product or feature? I'd rather see a couple of good companies go after it, and with the rest, seeing it is well underway, devoting their own considerable talent and energies to something else. Or, dream up a way to partner/collaborate. Think how much more would get done! [Why the heck do we need 860,000 models of cell phones? It is just a waste of resources.]

There is much to say on this topic, and I won't fill up space here. But you'll likely hear more from me on it!

On badmouthing the competition...I agree with Jackie - as long as a discussion offers value through criticism, that is OK. A phrase, "XYZ Widget company sucks" by itself is not. If you say why in detail it does, then go for it. Then, send a note over to their CEO and invite them to respond!

Laurent, I think you misunderstand what we mean by 'legal training'. It's basic common sense that any employee should know anyway, in fact, any blogger could do with such knowledge. This is what is copyright and what it its violations, how not to spill out company/trade/client secrets, how not to libel anyone. I don't see that as limiting anyone's freedom. On the contrary, that kind of basic awareness can only ease the communication as the management will be able to have more faith in bloggers not damaging the company reputation or clients' confidentiality by mistake/accident.

As for malicious intent, you can't stop that in any world, with blogs or without.

> But it is possible to give a close impression
> about the corporate culture and identity.
> The way people think in the company.

I agree that it is good solution.
But I think few companies are able to do so.
Somebody was waiting for bill gates's blog.
I think it's not possible for him ...
In the other side, a company like google is able to publish a efficient blog.

> Concerning legal problem...

I remember a journalist explaining me how difficult it was in the US to speak freely.
She was afraid to be sued by the company she was speaking about.
Legal costs are so expensive that it's difficult to even tell the truth.

A CEO who honestly confessed weaknesses and mistakes of his company, who apologized, who spoke of remedial actions, who asked for customer suggestions, who responded quickly to comment posts...

...that would be a great CEO blog.

CEO arrogance and financial perks, coupled with offshore outsourcing and downsizing, make CEOs seem like ugly unprincipled enemies of the public.

CEOs need blogs more than almost any other sector of society, besides lawyers that is.

Blogs can help substantially with PR and good will.

The comments to this entry are closed.


CEObloggers Wiki