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Corporate blogging policy : Don’t be a dumb ass

Dennis Kenendy picked up on a great discussion by Julian at EXCELER8ion and Heather Hamilton, publisher of the Marketing at Microsoft Blog.

Julian concludes a suggested one sentence corporate blogging policy

When blogging: better to be a smart ass than a dumb ass.

Heather cut to the chase with her corporate blogging post ‘The difference between companies that WANT their employees to blog and companies that ALLOW their employees to blog.’ The money quote, as Dennis called it:

It’s not necessarily any one policy that concerns me but that, taken together, they seem to represent a fear of allowing employees to blog. As if to say: ‘we don’t really want you to blog, but if you must, follow these vague rules’. Telling people not to violate agreements they have signed? Duh! You can’t disclose proprietary information? Duh! No obscene material? Wait while I delete a post I’ve been working on.

I guess my position is that if you need to spell it out for people this plainly, you really don’t trust them to blog in the first place and/or you need to raise your hiring bar. Are you trying to scare them off blogging? Giving yourself something to point to if you don’t like what they say? I’m not trying to criticize any one company; I just don’t buy into these extensive blogging policies.

I prefer the ‘don’t do anything stupid’ policy, which assumes (hopefully based on proof) that you hire smart people.

You may have a tough time getting ‘Don’t be a dumb ass’ by the risk analysis committee (yes, large law firms have those). But I am telling law firm marketing management professionals multiple times a week the best policy is ‘Don’t do anything stupid.’

Lawyers and other professionals, with some exceptions, know not to be stupid on the phone, in emails, in presentations, in meeting with prospects, writing articles, and in talking with the media. Why are law firms and professional service firms so gosh darn afraid of lawyers and professionals loosing their minds when it comes to publishing a blog?

Blogs are new. Okay, so was the phone. So were websites. Lawyers and other professionals survived.

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