One of the main fears of corporate blogging is the risk to reputation and the damage that employee bloggers can do to their own company.

If a firm does choose to allow employees to blog in work time, it is my experience that many legal and HR advisors advocate having a restrictive and detailed blogging policy to protect the firm.
A danger with this approach is that if you set up such a blogging policy, it will become so tight that no employee would dare to blog…

Against this background, consider this research which was recently published in InsideKnowledge magazine.

A study into corporate blogging at software giant Microsoft, where as many as one-in-ten staff are involved in blogging, indicates that it is the organisation’s laid back approach to the medium about what staff can – and cannot – write about that has been one of the key reasons for staff to take up blogging.

The study was conducted by Lilia Efimova, Telematica Instituut in the Netherlands and Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher in the adaptive systems and interaction group at Microsoft Research.

The benefits to Microsoft of blogging have included improved PR, enhanced internal communication and a more effective relationship with clients.

The authors believe that a crucial element in the success of blogging lies in the lack of corporate control of the medium.

In a not dissimilar way, consider this blogging policy which is at PR firm, Hill & Knowlton.

Effectively it is a 15-line plain English code of practice which shows a clear understanding of social media issues such as “I will acknowledge and correct mistakes promptly” and “I will not delete comments unless they are spam or off-topic.”

What I do not like about the policy is the emphasis on “I” which is repeated 15 times and makes it almost sound if the blogger is in the army.

What I do like about the policy is that the firm has adequate legal protection as the blogger is reminded not to do anything in breach of his or her employment contract and if someone thinks a breach of the code has been made, you are invited to contact a relevant member of staff.

In addition, the firm has resisted the tendency (which some lawyers or HR professionals have) to create a 10-page blogging policy which would scare people from blogging in the first place.

This is precisely the situation which Microsoft has avoided.