Monday, May 08, 2006

Blogging Policies: One Size Does Not Fit All

Last Wednesday, my firm released the results of the Makovsky 2006 State of Corporate Blogging Survey conducted by Harris Interactive and an accompanying press release. There were a number of fascinating findings, but one of the most surprising for me was this one: Despite the fact that nearly 80% of senior executives with Fortune 1000 companies recognize that their companies should have corporate policies pertaining to blogging, nearly half (47%) currently do not (graph).

Blogs can be a terrific venue to create valuable buzz about a company, strengthening and creating customer relationships, supporting its products, and showcasing its intellectual and human capital. But, conversely, corporate bloggers can also create the potential for liabilities for their companies by breaching privacy, trade secrets, copyright, defamation, securities and a whole host of other laws. In fact, our study revealed that 12% of Fortune 1000 companies have already taken legal or other action in response to a blog (graph).

With the right policies in place, the benefits of blogging can significantly outweigh the potential risks … but what are “the right policies”? There’s no simple answer. Every company has to shape its policies to its culture and the issues it faces in the marketplace. For example, IBM’s thoughtful and comprehensive Blogging Policies & Guidelines are contained in a six-page document that covers a wide range of issues: from protecting confidential and proprietary information to the special responsibilities of managers and executives who blog … from the admonition “Don’t pick fights” to “Don’t forget your day job.”

GM’s Blogger Code of Ethics, on the other hand, is an elegant little five-point manifesto:

  1. We will tell the truth. We will acknowledge and correct any mistakes promptly.

  2. We will not delete comments unless they are spam, off-topic, or defamatory.

  3. We will reply to comments when appropriate as promptly as possible.

  4. We will link to online references and original source materials directly.

  5. We will disagree with other opinions respectfully.
Every company must create — or adapt — its policies to meet its own unique needs. It’s a matter of clearly defining the rights and responsibilities of the company’s blogging community.
Download a copy of the Makovsky 2006 State of Corporate Blogging Survey and accompanying press release to examine the full results of our study.

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