Corporate Blogging: Six Steps Help Ensure At-Work Blogs Are An Asset

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If you are searching for effective ways to increase traffic to your company web site, encourage key employees to blog, but set a policy first to help ensure success. Search engines like Google elevate the rankings of web sites with continually changing content, and frequent postings to blogs are an ideal way to take advantage of that system. One important key to blogging success is to establish a well-defined policy before the practice is sanctioned at your work.

If you are searching for effective ways to increase traffic to your company web site, you might want to encourage key employees to blog, but set a policy first to help ensure success.

Search engines like Google elevate the rankings of web sites with continually changing content, and frequent postings to blogs are an ideal way to take advantage of that system. And according to many communications experts, blogs also allow companies to personalize their organizations, products and services, making a human connection with customers that is often difficult in this high-tech age.

One important key to blogging success is to establish a well-defined policy before the practice is sanctioned at your work. Large and small companies alike use blogging, and yet only 15 percent of companies have policies in place to address workplace blogging, according to a recent survey by the Employment Law Alliance.    Without a clear policy, the anything-goes, free-for-all attitude that flourishes on the Internet could harm your company's reputation.

“Whether a blog becomes a useful tool for your company, or a source of irritation, is a choice you can influence with the policies you adopt today,” says labor and employment law attorney James Erwin from Pierce Atwood LLP in Portland, Maine.

To begin, each workplace blogger needs specific permission and clear direction from management, making sure the employee understands that blogging is part of their job.    Agree in writing with the blogger as to the business purpose for the blog and then require the blogger to adhere to your blogging policy.

Attorney Erwin suggests a comprehensive policy that covers at least these six key areas:

1. Expressly include blogging within the same rules that govern acceptable use of email and Internet;

2. Prohibit employees from disclosing or discussing any confidential or proprietary information;

3. Remind employees that they are expected to be respectful of the company, its employees, its customers and its competitors; and are not to post material that contains harassing, discriminatory or threatening content, no matter when or where the blogging is conducted:

4. Require employees to use their real name, not an alias, and; employees must make it clear that the views they express online are their own and not those of the employer. This policy adds credibility to the blog, as it will be viewed by readers as an independent source of information.

5. Require that any reader responses to a blog be edited for profanity, harassing, discriminatory or threatening content directed toward the company, its employees, its customers, and its competitors.

6. Create an agreement with each blogger as to the purpose of the blog, the amount of company time you will allow the blogger to devote to the practice, and any necessary restrictions regarding overtime compensation for off-site blogging.

By adopting policies that expressly address blogging, Erwin says that an employer can educate employees on specific limits and expectations. If it becomes necessary to take action against an employee because of inappropriate blogging, the employer will have fairly warned of what is problematic and what the consequences may be. This simple step will mitigate the effect on employee morale. It will also enable the employer to point to an objective, policy-based rationale for its decision to discipline or terminate, buttressing its defenses against claims of discrimination or retaliation.

If your company does not have a blog, you are missing out on an important communications medium. Currently 10 million workplace bloggers are active. More join the ranks daily. The smart ones are guided by a blogging policy that encourages meaningful communications and discourages destructive discourse.

Pierce Atwood LLP is the largest law firm based in northern New England and has 120 attorneys who serve regional, national and international clients from offices in Portland and Augusta, Maine; Portsmouth and Concord, New Hampshire and Boston, Massachusetts. For more information about the firm, its attorneys and services, please visit http://www.pierceatwood.com.

Contact: Jennifer Whittier

Phone: 207-791-1244

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