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