Alysa Zeltzer and John Villafranco, attorneys with Kelley Drye Collier Shannon in Washington, D.C. Zeltzer have pulled together a list of do’s and don’ts on company blogging.

May be more appropriate for lawyers advising their corporate clients on blogging issues than guiding lawyers on their own blogging. And though not all points may be relevant to your situation, the list is a nice resource to pull from.

Here’s an abbreviated version but head to Legal Technology News for the full article.

The do’s

  • Make a clear decision on whether the company will sponsor and/or host a blog (or several), and what the objectives are for each blog. Blogs don’t make sense for all companies.
  • Implement a clear policy on employee blogs. Cover the type of content that may be covered on company as well as well individual employee blogs referencing the company.
  • Train employees on how to comply with all applicable laws and corporate policies when blogging. Compliance guidance should instruct against blogging that, while not an outright legal violation, may be damaging to the company.
  • Monitor postings periodically to ensure that they are complying with the corporate blogging policy, and take action when you see clear examples of noncompliance, such as providing retraining or clearer instructions on content that is not acceptable.
  • Assign authors for the blog and their responsibilities before launching the blog. The ideal business bloggers should be adept writers and content employees who can remain calm when diffusing complaints and rants from unhappy third-party posters.
  • Keep the blog current.
  • Set the expectations of the blog’s readers by placing in a clear and conspicuous location on the Web site the blog’s terms and conditions of use.
  • Consider, before creating a corporate blog, how the posted content will affect the company’s discovery and document-retention obligations. If there is litigation involving the company that may relate to content posted on the blog, the company will need to have a method to archive the material.
  • Be mindful of consumer protection laws and require a review process that helps ensure that all objective statements made by employees on the blog are truthful, not misleading and are substantiated by reliable evidence.
  • Be mindful of privacy and information security laws. Collecting personal information about individuals who post and/or visit the blog — from names and e-mail addresses to Web site cookies and URLs — must comply with the FTC Act, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) (if collecting personal information from children under 13) and state privacy and information security laws, as well as international privacy and data security laws if foreign consumers’ personal information is collected.
  • Be mindful of intellectual property laws and train your blogging employees on such requirements. Employee postings on a corporate blog that include a third-party’s intellectual property, such as copyrighted material or trademarks, may expose the company to allegations of infringement.
  • Train your employees on how to avoid posting content that is likely to incite tort-based causes of action, such as defamation, trade libel, product disparagement, negligent or fraudulent misrepresentation and vicarious liability for an employee’s posting.
  • Be mindful of security laws if they apply to your business. Publicly traded companies need to train their employee bloggers of the risks associated with: 1) making material misstatements that could manipulate the stock price and expose the company to liability for securities fraud under Rule 10b-5; 2) disclosing material non-public information that could be considered a prohibited selective disclosure under federal securities laws; and 3) failing to include appropriate cautionary language accompanying a forward-looking statement on a corporate blog, which may fall outside the statutory safe harbor for such statements.

The dont’s

  • Don’t employ consumer bloggers to say positive things about your company’s products or services without ensuring that they disclose their affiliations with the company.
  • Don’t host a corporate blog without training blogging employees about how to post in compliance with applicable laws and company policies.
  • Don’t forget to monitor the blog periodically for compliance with laws and company policies.
  • Don’t allow the blog to be used as a forum for employees to say whatever they want about the company’s products or services regardless of accuracy or evidence.
  • Don’t permit employees to publish company trade secrets or patentable information on a blog.
  • Don’t terminate employees for posting inappropriate content to corporate blogs without considering the risk of wrongful termination claims, especially where the company does not have a consistent practice on how it treats employees who post content online.

Saw Howard Bashman’s name in the footer of the article. Perhaps that’s where the blog savvy stuff came from.

  • Thanks for the great list you have! I think corporate blogging does require some form of policy – to make sure the contents of the blog(s) don’t run wild… but I feel what is most important is that the company adopt an open culture.