Friday, December 29, 2006

Blogging Policies - first thoughts

Even if we decide that it’s not in our best interest to actively foray into the world of social media with a blog, podcasts or what have you, I strongly suggest we work on a set of blogging and social media policies.

The NewPR Wiki, a group-edited set of links and resources on communications, PR and social media, has two great pages of information on this topic. One contains a list of links to corporate blogging policies, and the other is a collection of articles and blog posts on some legal troubles faced by blogging employees and employers, as well as tips for both groups.

We don’t need to have an external corporate blog to have a blogging policy, or to at least address social media in some of our existing Internet and technology policies. Even if we aren’t officially blogging, we ought to have a set of governing principles in place – this technology is not going to go away!

With an organization as large as ours, it's safe to assume a large number of our employees are blogging unofficially - I can think of half a dozen employees on this floor of this building alone who have personal blogs. Can or should we encourage people to feel free to identify themselves as members of this department when they blog? Or the other end of the spectrum - what about situations like the recent information leak of a prominent Canadian? We should have clear policies in place to deal with this kind of problem.

Blog policies don't have to be punative or restrictive. IBM's blogging policy contains a section on how to blog and suggests points like respect your audience, avoid inflamatory comments, find out who else is blogging and cite them, and be the first to admit and correct your own mistakes.

We can also use a blogging policy to clarify whether employees can blog on company time, whether employees should have a disclaimer if they blog as employees of the Agency, and clarify what topics might be off limits.

In the new year, I hope to do more research on whether other departments have blogging policies (I have heard that DND has one).