Develop a corporate blogging policy
There are few golden examples of corporate blogging policies that provide employees useful and necessary guidance on what they can blog about and how they should do it as it relates to company information.
Sun Microsystems stands out as a company that actively encourages their employees to engage each other and the wider tech world in conversations about Sun’s products. They also lay their blogging policy out in clear, understandable language.
Common sense at work here; it’s perfectly OK to talk about your work and have a dialog with the community, but it’s not OK to publish the recipe for one of our secret sauces. There’s an official policy on protecting Sun’s proprietary and confidential information, but there are still going to be judgment calls. […] There are all sorts of laws about what we can and can’t say, business-wise. Talking about revenue, future product ship dates, roadmaps, or our share price is apt to get you, or the company, or both, into legal trouble.
I recommend reading the full policy. It’s not just a list of restrictions. Sun has also provided helpful tips to any employees interested in getting started blogging, but not really up to speed on the phenomenon.
Contrast Sun’s policy with IBM’s and Sun’s starts to look mighty folksy. IBM’s is much, much longer, less easily read and understood, and probably more difficult to follow for employees. If I were IBM, I would simplify. The best blogging is concise and to the point, and so should any policy governing it.
Some more examples:
The IBM policy is interesting though since IBM is now a consulting company and they handle client information as well as their own proprietary data, much like accounting firms.
Protect IBM’s clients, business partners and suppliers. Clients, partners or suppliers should not be cited or obviously referenced without their approval. On your blog, never identify a client, partner or supplier by name without permission and never discuss confidential details of a client engagement. It is acceptable to discuss general details about kinds of projects and to use non-identifying pseudonyms for a client (e.g., Client 123) so long as the information provided does not violate any non-disclosure agreements that may be in place with the client or make it easy for someone to identfy the client. Furthermore, your blog is not the place to “conduct business” with a client.
Accounting firms should be proactive about setting a blogging policy, and encourage their knowledge workers to embrace the medium.