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
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.
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.