Do you blog about your employer? Does your employer have a “blogging policy”? Do you identify yourself as “Joe Blogger Who Works At Widgets, Incorporated”? If you raise an eyebrow at any of those questions and are unsure, you should find out those answers sooner rather than later. Why - you ask? In recent weeks, Cisco, a company that builds computer networking equipment, is being sued because one of their employees posted information about another company on their personal Blogger.com web site.
So, what exactly happened? Here is the situation in a nutshell:
- Blogger X works at Company Y.
- Blogger X had a blog on Blogger.com and didn’t tell anyone who he was or whom he worked for.
- Blogger X, being a knowledgeable person, wrote about the industry he worked in but not about his employer.
- Over time, the blogger writes about other companies on their blog. During this time he writes something about Company Z.
- A year goes by and, poof, Blogger X tells everyone who he is.
- Company Z, who has been reading the blog and have been unhappy about the content, rejoices as they now know who is writing the blog.
- Company Z then sues Blogger X’s employer.
Sounds a bit weird, yes? From a personal blogger’s perspective, it may be. I think it is a mild wake up call for bloggers but a large wake up call for employers. In the book, we talk about how a lot of companies like Microsoft, Dell, and Sun Micro Systems have great blogging communities. But each of them have guidelines around how bloggers should act and behave on line. Some go so far as to tell their employees how they should act even on social networking web sites. (Don’t get me started on that rule….) The article on CNet, has a few summaries of what larger companies are doing with guidelines for bloggers. Here are a few from that article.
Dell’s stance is perhaps the most similar to—and predates—Cisco’s. Bob Pearson, the computer maker’s vice president of communities and conversations, said the company prides itself on being one of the first companies to release a “clear transparency policy.”
That “online communication policy,” released in November 2006, sets standards for employees when they’re acting as “a delegate of the company.”
Specifically, they’re expected to disclose their association with Dell whenever they do any sort of blogging, social networking, Wikipedia entry-editing, or other online activities related to or on behalf of the company. If the subject matter crosses over into hobbies or people’s personal lives, “there would be no rationale for us to get involved in that,” Pearson said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Sun Microsystems, which hosts blogs from CEO Jonathan Schwartz and some 4,000 other employees, has had a blogging policy in place since 2004. It broadly prohibits discussing a wealth of “non-public” information, including financial data, code, personal information about other individuals, all manner of confidential information, and “work-related legal proceedings or controversies.”
Google similarly recommends, but does not require, such disclosures, said spokeswoman Sunny Gettinger. (Google said it has an internal “communications” policy but doesn’t make it public, although its general employee code of conduct is.)
Yahoo is arguably even gentler, but its policy has “been successful in providing employees with guidance on blogging practices with respect to the company,” said spokeswoman Nicki Dugan. Its guidelines, issued in 2005 (PDF), decree two main rules: don’t reveal proprietary information, and be cautious about posting exaggerations, obscenities, or other characterizations that could invite litigation.
So, you bloggers out there, the best thing you should do when you start blogging is to check out what your employer says about it. Maybe, you should offer to pen a blog for your employer if they don’t have one? Who knows where that could lead!
And sometimes, just sometimes, you need something quick and easy to get yourself back in the game. Enter the desk photograph.
Long used by experienced bloggers who are casting about for something, anything to blog about, the desk photograph has two major things going for it. First, it’s a photo. Every blog reader likes a good photo. (And photos take up a nice chunk of space on the page, too.) Second, it lets people get a glimpse of part of your life that they won’t otherwise have access to. Use a desk photograph to give people the proverbial 1000 words, without writing a word.
The photo in this blog post is from a post on Peter Flaschner’s blog Almost Cool. He doesn’t say whether he was stuck for a blog topic, but we know better.
Have you ever thought about starting a blog? Ever wondered how to make a little money while blogging? Have you speculated how you may be able to turn blogging into a career? Of course you have and the first thing you need to do is pick up a copy of our book. But, if you aren’t about to launch out of your chair and run to your nearest book store, I invite you to check out Etienne Teo, a blogger and marketer in Singapore. He has been blogging for a while now and has posted a few words about Blogging For Dummies.
I passed by Borders which is one of the biggest bookstore here in Singapore and that is beside coffeebean but then again i thought i might find a few more new arrivals as they have a wide range of books and the section i normally browse through would be under “business management"and “self-improvements”. blogging for dummiesThese were the two categories that i want to improve in terms of self learning. As i was glancing along the shelf, i came across a book on “Blogging for Dummies” and i thought to myself for a second, “how on earth will anyone purchase such a book that could be easily Googled for online.” I flipped the book around and the price tag on this book printed $26.99 bucks after i do a conversion in currency, i mean you could get this book at $19 over at amazon if you love to keep a full collection on dummies, there is no need to purchase it here and why are there so many on this shelf, i can’t understand, will they sell?
What happened next changed my perception entirely and got me pondering why that happens, A lady walked past and grabbed the book which i have just described as basic stuff which i am sure it will be left on this shelf forever and there she started browsing through the contents and told a glance on the front cover “Blogging for Dummies” and left with a smile to the counter and purchasing the book at $26.99, i guess i was wrong after i rewinded the process and analysis what could have triggered the lady to purchase the book?
If you don’t know about Etienne, I have stumbled across his web site here and there when I have been looking for some new tips and advice about turning words into profit. Go check him out he has a lot of great advice.