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Employee Blogs 2
(June 21, 2007) It's easy to let this conversation gravitate to legal issues. Comments on the first two segments of this series (here and here) focus on the whys wherefores and legislative issues. While these things are a critical part of the dialog, the hardest parts of Employee Blogging to manage are outside of those boundaries. Both the risk and potential of having / tolerating blogs from your employees are rooted in social and viral consequence, not legal.
The business question that always matters is "how?".
What bloggers deliver as company employees is a face on the organization, its values and the things it tolerates. An off-color anti-gay remark on an anonymous blog tolerated by the anonymous poster's management is a reflection on the culture of that company. Benevolent acts on the part of other bloggers are equally impactful. Sadly, the negative outweighs the positive in Public Relations (The old equation is that one "Aw Rats equals 10 attaboys" is a useful metric for public relations management.)
Take a look at the folksy home-grown enthusiasm delivered by either Heather Hamilton or Dennis Smith. They specialize in making their companies more accessible and approachable. A bombastic tone that might be effective in the Electronic Recruiting News is often reputation damage for a company using the approach. Where enthusiasm works, harsh negativity or poorly executed comedy is a recipe for disaster.
So, how do you police employee blogs and make them successful elements of your market making strategy?
First of all, the area is fraught with uncertainty and risk. The legal precedents are far from established. While there is a chance to capture first mover advantage (pole position we've heard it called), there is equal or greater risk.
Blogging by your employees will expose your culture to the light of day. Maybe this is good, maybe not so good. You will either be instantly understood as a company that trusts its people or one that doesn't. If you don't trust your people (or worse, trust them inappropriately, it will show instantly).
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