We encourage companies to consider blogging as part of their efforts to communicate better with their customers. As much as we would love to see everyone blogging, podcasting, using wikis and subscribing to and publishing feeds, they are not the answer for everyone. At the same time, those companies who will make good use of blogs/ podcasts/ wikis/ insert-name-of-new-media-element-here should take care to ensure that these new media elements are governed by properly prepared policies that determine what the acceptable uses of those new media elements are. It is important to bear in mind that if you have an acceptable use policy in your company to deal with the use of your IT infrastructure (and you really should have something in place), your policy should encompass all uses of that IT infrastructure. New media is, well, new, but that doesn’t mean you treat it differently from a policies and procedures perspective.
When you publish content on your company blog, wiki or podcast the same rules relating to intellectual property (copyright, trademarks, patents etc), privacy, defamation and advertising apply just as they would to a static website. You should therefore take care to ensure that your acceptable use policy covers some of the following issues (this is by no means a closed list):
- publication of the company’s intellectual property;
- republication of other people’s content (one of the big concerns here is copyright and trademark infringement);
- publishing potentially defamatory content (and, in the process, exposing the company to claims);
- expressing personal views on the company blog;
- who is responsible for content published on the site and whether content should be checked before it is published;
- what sorts of content may be published on the site (for example, strictly company related or anything in the industry?); and
- compliance with legal requirements which may be relevant to publication of this sort of content.
There is a fairly comprehensive list of Do’s and Don’t’s when it comes to corporate blogging on the Law.com Legal Technology site that is worth reading.
New media can be used really effectively in a corporate environment. Like any aspect of the business you need to make sure that it fits in with what you are doing and have planned and compromise the company. Achieving this may require a fairly simple set of rules and procedures that, when implemented, will facilitate the creation of an effective and and more productive communication channel with your customers.