Employee Blogs: Friend or Farce?

Could a bad cup of coffee land you in hot water?

It seems that many organizations are venturing in to the world of employee blogging. From Microsoft employees to restaurant chefs, companies are looking to employees to blog agreeably about their job and the company they work for.

The most interesting example I could find was the Goodwill Ambassablog written by Goodwill Ambassadors and operated by Goodwill Ambassadors of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. Part promotion and part personal journal, each day the three authors blog about their experiences and interactions at the San Diego Airport.

Employee blogs seem to be successful and offer a unique glimpse into the work days of employees. But as more and more companies capitalize on the free promotion and employee-reader interaction that employee blogs provide, I begin to wonder if employee associated blogging is really as good as it sometimes seems.

Google Inc. may agree with me. In January 2005,Google removed some personal blog posts from a new Google employee because of content that criticized the company.

In the future, if employees are required to blog about certain topics and with provided viewpoints, will the blogosphere become a restricted forum? Will companies be allowed to control all employee content, even on personal blogs?

As the number of random affiliations between companies increases with the concentration of corporate ownership, where will the rational limits on employee content stop and the crazy company expectations begin?

If, for example, you are doing PR for a large agency who represents hundreds of clients. One day, while blogging on your personal blog after work, you offhandedly mention that the morning coffee you got from the cafe down the street was terrible. You go on to say that luckily you had such an amazing day at your amazing job that the bad coffee just didn’t matter. You find out later, however, that your firm represents that coffee shop in some distant division or has some obscure partnership and that top execs are angered by the negative publicity for the shop in your blog post. They insist you remove it.

Should a company have control over an employee’s freedom to express her opinions? Eventually, as more people begin to blog, will companies strive to monitor even personal blogs for content that could negatively impact the company, its clients or its affiliated organizations? Who knows?

image from whatscookingamerica.net

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February 13, 2008. Tags: , , , . Career Advice, PR, social media.

4 Comments

  1. Ambassablogmaster replied:

    Hi, I’m the Ambassablogmaster of the Goodwill Ambassablog at San Diego International Aiport. (May we mention your mention of us on our blog?) I think you raise excellent points about the potential strengths and challenges of blogging as a medium for internal and external communications at large organizations. This is a new venture for us, and so far the reaction from employees and many in the community has been positive. I believe that blogs, like the Internet itself, will morph and adapt to whatever uses those employing the technology choose to put it. But only the most effective uses will stand the test of time. You’ve got a great blog by the way!

  2. Katy replied:

    Thanks for the positive feedback. You are welcome to mention my post on your blog. I was really impressed with the ambassablog idea, and I think it’s a great way for your employees to voice their opinions and connect with the blogging community. I’m glad to hear it has been so successful.

  3. Ambassablogmaster replied:

    Thanks Katy. I already have your comment up and your blog linked at the Goodwill Ambassablog. By the way, my sister lives in Eugene and works at U of O. Go Ducks! She works for an early childhood development program called EC Cares. Maybe you’ll run across each other on campus sometime!

  4. Bill Bartmann replied:

    Cool site, love the info.

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