Thomas Nelson Corporate Blogging Guidelines

Several years ago, I wanted to encourage our employees to blog. As a traditional book publishing company, I felt that we needed to experience new media if we were going to transition successfully to it. I still feel this way.

computer keys that spell out the word blogging

Initially, some people expressed interest. Others were reluctant. So, in order to encourage blogging, we created a simple set of guidelines to help our bloggers know what we expected. However, I noticed this week that these never made the transition to my new blog, which I launched a few months ago. So I thought I wold re-post them here.

These guidelines have been well-received in our company. In fact, several other companies have borrowed them (with our blessing) in part or in whole to encourage their own employees to blog. If you are looking for something for your own organization, please feel free to use these or build upon them.

At Thomas Nelson, we want to encourage you to blog about our company, our products, and your work. Our goal is three-fold:

  1. To raise the visibility of our company,
  2. To make a contribution to our industry, and
  3. To give the public a look at what goes on within a real live publishing company.

Therefore, we have established a blog aggregation page that is linked to the ThomasNelson.com Web site. “House / Work,” the name of this page, contains links to employee blogs, along with the first few sentences from the most recent entry.

The page is automatically updated whenever a blogger creates a new post. This way readers can quickly scan new entries, click on those that interest them, and then read the entry on the blogger’s site. This makes it convenient for people who are interested in reading employee blogs. It also helps publicize individual blogs and generates traffic for everyone.

If you would like to have us link to your blog, please set it up, and write at least three entries. Once you have done this, send an e-mail to Gabe Wicks with a link to your blog. He will then add it to House / Work unless the content does not meet our guidelines.

In order to participate in this program, you must abide by the following guidelines:

  1. Start with a blogging service. We do not host employee blogs. We think it adds more credibility if the Company does not officially sponsor them. Therefore, please use one of the many third-party blog hosting sites on the Internet. Some of these are free (e.g., Blogger.com and WordPress.com). Some charge a nominal fee (e.g., TypePad.com and SquareSpace.com). Others are free but require you to host them on your own server or site (e.g., WordPress.org). Any expenses are your responsibility.
  2. Write as yourself. In other words, please use your real name. We don’t want people writing anonymously or under a pseudonym. Your name should be prominently displayed on your blog’s title or subtitle. This will add credibility with your readers and promote accountability within our Company.
  3. Own your content. Employee blog sites are not Company communications. Therefore, your blog entries legally belong to you. They represent your thoughts and opinions. You may want to remind your readers of this fact by including the following disclaimer on your site:

    The posts on this blog are provided ‘as is’ with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.”

    You assume full responsibility and liability for all actions arising from your posts. We also encourage you to put a copyright notice on your site in your name (e.g., “© 2009, John Smith”).

  4. Write relevant. Write often. Whether you know it or not, you are an expert. You have a unique perspective on our Company based on your talents, skills, and current responsibilities. People want to hear about that perspective. Also, in order to develop a consistent readership, you should try to write on a regular basis. For some, this will be daily; for others, it may be weekly. The important thing is consistent posting. New content is what keeps readers coming back. You may also write on Company time, provided it doesn’t become excessive and doesn’t interfere with your job assignments and responsibilities. If you have a question about this, check with your supervisor.
  5. Advertise—if you wish. While there is no requirement to run ads on your blog, you are free to do this if you wish. Some of the free blog services run ads as a way to offset their costs. If you use such a service, you won’t have a choice. On the other hand, if you pay for your service, you can avoid advertising altogether or participate in a service like Google’s AdSense or Amazon’s Associate Program. These types of programs will pay you based on “page views,” “click-throughs,” or purchases made on participating Web sites. You might want to ask fellow bloggers for suggestions. The only thing we ask is that, to the extent you have control, you run ads or recommend products that are congruent with our core values as a Company.
  6. Be nice. Avoid attacking other individuals or companies. This includes fellow employees, authors, customers, vendors, or competitors. You are welcome to disagree with the Company’s leaders, provided your tone is respectful. If in doubt, we suggest that you “sleep on it” and then let some of your colleagues—perhaps even your supervisor—review your work before you post it.
  7. Keep secrets. Do not disclose sensitive, proprietary, confidential, or financial information about the Company, other than what is publicly available in our corporate press releases. This includes revenues, profits, forecasts, and other financial information related to specific authors, brands, products, product lines, customers, operating units, etc. Again, if in doubt, check with your supervisor before posting this type of information.
  8. Respect copyrights. For your protection, do not post any material that is copyrighted unless (a) you are the copyright owner, (b) you have written permission of the copyright owner to post the copyrighted material on your blog, or (c) you are sure that the use of any copyrighted material is permitted by the legal doctrine of “fair use.” (Please note: this is your responsibility. The Company cannot provide you with legal advice regarding this.)
  9. Obey the law. This goes without saying, but by way of reminder, do not post any material that is obscene, defamatory, profane, libelous, threatening, harassing, abusive, hateful, embarrassing to another person or entity, or violates the privacy rights of another. Also, do not post material that contains viruses, Trojan horses, worms, or any other computer code that is intended to damage, interfere with, or surreptitiously intercept or expropriate any system, data, or information.
  10. Remember the Handbook. As a condition of your employment, you agreed to abide by the rules of the Thomas Nelson Company Handbook. This also applies to your blogging activities. We suggest you take time to review the section entitled, “Employee Responsibilities” (pp. 36–39).

If you do not abide by the above guidelines, we reserve the right to stop linking to your blog.

Question: Does your organization encourage blogging? If not, why? If so, how?
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