Blogging policies and guidelines

19 May 2005

Following a collaborative effort by existing bloggers in our company, we’ve just had our guidelines for personal weblogs approved and published to all our staff. I’m reproducing the key extracts here for the reference of others.

Hill & Knowlton views personal websites and weblogs (blogs) positively. Blogs are powerful tools that are already influencing reputation. They form part of some much wider changes taking place in online media that will increasingly affect our business and our clients’ brands. By experimenting with the medium – personally or on behalf of the company – our staff will learn more and be able to advise our clients better and more credibly.

In connection with any blogging, please be mindful of the following:

  • Most weblogs publish RSS feeds that others can subscribe to, so remember that others, including your colleagues, may be actively reading what you write.

  • Think of what you say in your weblog in the same way as statements you might make to the media, or emails you might send to people you don’t know. If you wouldn’t include it in those, don’t post it on your weblog.

  • Never disclose any information – including textual or visual material – that is confidential or proprietary to Hill & Knowlton, or any third party that has disclosed information to us (e.g. clients, journalists, suppliers, etc.). Your existing contract in any case prohibits this.

  • There are many things that we cannot mention as a publicly-owned company. Talking about our revenue, future plans, or the WPP share price will get you and Hill & Knowlton in legal trouble, even if it is just your own personal view, and whether or not you directly identify yourself as an employee of Hill & Knowlton.

  • You should make it clear that the views you express are yours alone. You may want to use the following form of words on your weblog, weblog posting, or website: The views expressed on this [blog; website] are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer

In addition, we include some advice on best practice:

  • Link, link, link

The web is all about links. When you find something interesting and relevant, link to it. You’ll be helping your readers, and you’ll generate links back to your blog.

  • Be interesting
    If you write interesting things on your blog, it will be popular. Expose your personality – write about yourself, your family, movies, books and games; post pictures. But remember that your blog is a public place so try to avoid embarrassing your readers or others.

  • Check your facts
    Even though your blog postings will be primarily made up of personal opinion, do your research well and check that your facts are accurate. Make sure you have permission to post any copyrighted items (e.g. images) to your blog, and be careful about posting or linking to items that may contain viruses.

  • Write about what you know
    The best way to be interesting is to write about what you know. If you have a deep understanding of something, talk about the challenges and issues around it. Try not to rant about things you don’t understand, as you’re more likely to get embarrassed by a real expert.

  • Quality matters
    Use a spell-checker and keep things clear and concise. Ask people whether your blog looks good, design-wise, and take their advice to improve it.

  • The most interesting thing about the whole process has not been creating the guidelines themselves, but the connected issues raised by staff such as ghost writing blogs for clients, monitoring and commenting on blogs, pitching stories to bloggers, and blogging on behalf of the company.

    So with the personal guidelines under our belt, we’re making a start on addressing some of these other issues.

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    26 Responses to “Blogging policies and guidelines”

    1. Niall Cook

      Given that I seem to be posting more and more about blogging and how it relates to PR and my company, I’ve made the design of my blog more explicitly Hill & Knowlton branded and part of our (currently experimental) business blogging community, Collective Insight.

    2. Niall Cook

      It’s great to see some of my colleagues amplifying the announcement of our personal weblog guidelines. Now all I have to do is convince them to join our experimental business blogging community…

    3. Niall Cook

      You may already have seen that Yahoo! have published their personal blog guidelines (in PDF) (if not, the relevant postings are here, here and here). Now I’ve had chance to read the guidelines themselves (and Jeremy Zawodny’s own advice), there are a few differences between their guidelines and our own that I thought noteworthy.

    4. Niall Cook

      Fredrik Wackå has published a very thorough comparison of eight corporate blogging policies (our own included) over on his CorporateBloggingBlog.

    5. Niall Cook

      Plaxo’s Mark Jen calls for a site that collects different blogging policies. But why stop at blogging policies? How about getting companies to share all their other corporate policies?

    6. Niall Cook

      Following the coverage of Ketchum’s Personalized Media service, I have been asked by a few people why Hill & Knowlton hasn’t done something similar yet. My response can be summarised as follows…

    7. Niall Cook

      The US edition of PR Week contains an analysis of employee blogging. Apparently, there are 36 multinational companies missing out on the opportunity of sharing their employee blogging policies with others.

    8. Niall Cook

      I love the Financial Times. They always make me feel good about the crap I’ve been spouting at my ever-sceptical colleagues for the last two years. In this case it’s Scott Morrison, the tech industry watcher in the US for the FT, who pens "The rise of the corporate blogger" in the Business Life section (see page 12, or available online). Unsurprisingly focused on tech companies, he nevertheless gives a good round-up of why executives need to understand corporate blogging.

    9. Niall Cook

      Jupiter Research’s Gary Stein highlights a discussion taking place between Matt Galloway, Jonathan Carson…

    10. Niall Cook

      Steve Rubel is helping judge a contest for the <a href="http://www.simplyfired.com/" target="_blank">best story</a> of being sacked. Grand prize "loser" wins a trip for two on <em>The Apprentice</em> Legend Cruise, along with with cast members fired by Donald Trump. One of the <a href="http://www.simplyfired.com/feature.php" target="_blank">first entries is Mark Jen’s</a>, who was fired from Google for his blog, where he talked (vaguely) about confidential financial projections.

    11. Niall Cook

      I just wanted to thank those who posted about our announcement at the beginning of the week.

      I can assure…

    12. Niall Cook

      I just wanted to thank those who posted about our announcement at the beginning of the week.

      I can assure…

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