Blogging policies on the horizon

It’s just a matter of time before companies will implement policies or guidelines on blogging by employees.

A report in Fortune magazine on 21 September discusses the benefits to companies of employees blogging, citing Sun Microsystems (about 100 employees) and Microsoft (about 1,000 employees) as leaders in this area. The article’s highly positive focus includes a great comment by Sun’s COO and most senior blogger, Jonathan Schwartz: “Blogs are no more mandated at Sun than email. But I have a hard time seeing how a manager can be effective without both.”

The article also includes comment by David Farrell, Sun’s Chief Compliance Officer, that his company will soon require employees to agree to specific guidelines before starting blogs. I think it’s significant that this comment was made by the executive in charge of compliance issues (think Sarbanes-Oxley, for example, and the overall regulatory environment if you’re a publicly-held company in the US).

Implementing policies or guidelines is an inevitable development. As blogs become more pervasive in the business world, and as more employees take up blogging, establishing some clear guidelines (I prefer that word) makes an awful lot of business sense.

Last weekend, Microsoft’s most high-profile employee blogger, Robert Scoble, said that he has now been brought into the official public relations framework (policy) at Microsoft regarding speaking with the media (see post). Then there’s the Friendster case last month, where an employee said she was fired in connection with certain comments she made on her personal blog (see post).

It’s all about balance on the tightrope. Blogs by employees will become a hot topic for organizations. When I presented on blogs and wikis at a conference in Amsterdam last week, one of the points raised by some delegates in informal chats afterwards was how to do these things and ensure everyone is clear on what’s appropriate to comment on, and what’s not. So you have to have clarity.

Reality: more employees at more companies are going to blog. From an organizational point of view, it’s far better to embrace blogs within the overall communication framework. That means some formality. It’s about managing potential risks for the company and the employee.

Fortune | It’s Hard to Manage If you Don’t Blog

(Fortune link via Micro Persuasion)

(Written with BlogJet 1.1.0 build 20 and manually published live from TypePad.)