The web, the ultimate tool for the generation and dissemination of irony, hasn’t lost it’s touch. A recent post by a Google employee intended to illustrate how advertising can be used for issue management created a bit of… you guessed it… an issue. While I’m sure the movie was not a target but provided Lauren Turner with a great segue into a pertinent topic, which resulted highlights an important point: when blogging on a corporate site… just how much can you say?
When we were ramping up to do the Windows Live Hotmail beta we knew that in addition to the private beta tester forum we wanted to have a public mechanism for putting out the good word about our new baby. The Hotmail team blog was a “grassroots” effort, driven by the line-level employees and not by our PR department and, as a result, we needed to make it clear to the powers-that-be that we had our act together and weren’t going to post something which would prove embarrassing. To smooth the way I wrote up a guide to communicating with the outside world which covered newsgroups, dealing with press calls and, of course, blogging.
Personal blogs are just that, personal blogs. Everyone puts the requisite disclaimer on their blog (“the opinions expressed here… blah blah blah”) but it’s pretty much accepted that unless you have a company logo emblazoned at the top of your page there is no other source for the drivel contained within. There’s no need to set up regulations for your own blog.
If, however, you’re planning on starting a blog for your team, product or whatever you must set up some guidelines, there’s no way around it. If your company already has a policy on blogging, start there, it will provide a great framework for your new rules. There are also a ton of great blogging guidelines blog posts on the web. In the fallout of the Google’s Sicko-gate Matt Cutts wrote a good Company Blogging 101 post with great tips for corporate bloggers. The article well written and broken into easily digestible sections. If you blog on a site for your employer (or a site which is identified with a work project) I highly recommend you read Matt’s post and figure out how you can work the salient points into your own policy or mental framework.
So, back to my original question: how much can you say on a company-sponsored blog? The answer: as much as you like… but you have to establish the bounds well in advance. Corporate America is starting to realize the value of blogging as a tool for customer relations, PR, advertising and more but many companies are still quite shy when it comes to taking the plunge. Creating a solid set of posting guidelines will keep your boss and PR firm happy (and keeping your team blog on the net will make your customers happy).