23 September 2009
Almost a month ago, I asked for help to update Hill & Knowlton’s social media principles.
This afternoon, our CEO sent out the final version to all staff worldwide. We’ve already updated our public principles on our website, but I also wanted to share the full document here and explain a little about the process we’ve been through, what we’ve changed and why.
Our principles are split into three sections: personal use of social media; professional use of social media on behalf of our company and clients; and use of our official social media platforms. You might say this separation isn’t necessary, but we have found that not all of our staff operate in all these spaces so we want to make sure they can quickly identify the bits that are relevant to them.
You might also say that this makes them too long, and the only guideline should actually be “use your common sense”. That is undoubtedly a valid approach but if we are talking about being accountable to ourselves, our clients and the social media community, that simply doesn’t wash.
Our principles are centered around encouraging staff to participate appropriately not restricting their ability to do so. As communications professionals, it is essential that we are able to explore, understand and participate in social media in order to credibly advise our clients how to do the same.
A few other things worthy of note:
- We have a 24/7 email hotline – as well as our extensive digital practice – where staff can ask questions about what is/isn’t appropriate. Again this is designed to help, not hinder.
- We have defined a complaints procedure designed to be fair to everyone. Too often, we see knee-jerk reactions that don’t look at the issue objectively.
- Unlike version one, this time we have asked all staff to click a link in order to confirm that they have read and understand the principles.
For those of you trying to conduct a similar exercise in your own organization (or with clients), you might be interested in how we did it. If not, skip to the next section. Bear in mind that this was an update to existing guidelines not creation from scratch.
- We put the existing guidelines on our internal wiki platform and invited everyone to edit or comment on the different sections.
- Someone took all the feedback and created an updated version of the guidelines
- This was circulated as a draft to that community, socialized with senior management for comment and shared externally on this blog
- Final feedback was incorporated (mainly clarifications) before being signed off by the CEO, COO, CMO and digital practice head.
Links to the text of each section of the principles can be found below.
- Personal use of social media
- Professional use of social media on behalf of Hill & Knowlton and clients
- Code of Conduct for our official blogs at Collective Conversation
Please feel free to use, copy or adapt these principles as part of your own social media policies. It would be nice if you could let us know if they’ve been helpful too.