Microsoft’s Lenn Pryor (Robert Scoble’s boss) is on stage right now at the BBS 2005 and speaking on “Corporate Blogging: Strategy and Policy.” I was really struck by several things… Lenn comes across as super smart but not stuck up; he’s relaxed and engaging; he’s marvelously articulate. And so is Robert Scoble. Is this some personality profile they breed at Microsoft? Anyway, read my more-or-less verbatim transcription below of what Lenn said about employee guidelines for blogging. They sound simple… but they’re the result of a lot of thought. Oh, and if you haven’t already read it, here’s a related resource: Robert Scoble’s Corporate Weblog Manifesto.
Lenn: “Microsoft has 1,200 bloggers out of 55,000 employees. So there’s bound to be a ‘transgression’ or a mistake in those words. But Microsoft has a way of dealing with that. We’ve developed a set of guidelines, working with our legal department.”
BUT, he emphasizes, although they’re not in Microsoft’s official Employee Handbook, the rules are “manageable and understandable… They are just guidelines for being a successful blogger.”
Microsoft’s Guidelines for Successful Blogging
1. In short… be smart
Interjects Robert Scoble: “This means… don’t piss off your boss!”
“We hire adults,” says Pryor. “And we expect them to behave that way.”
2. Respect existing confidentiality agreements
3. Don’t break news when you’re not supposed to (i.e. reveal confidential info)
Lenn: “Don’t leak something about a new product using your blog. If it causes a 10-point drop in the share price then you’ve made a big goof.” (Read: you’re fired!)
“Make friends with your corporate communications department and learn how to work with them. It’s their job to break news; not yours.”
5. Respect prior employers
Pryor: “Don’t write about why their products are going to fail.”
6. Identify yourself
Lenn: “You must disclose that you are an employee of the company.” Although it’s OK to say that the views expressed are your own.
7. Be cautious in how you offer support or advice
Lenn mentions adhering to warranty rules. “If Scoble writes in his blog: ‘Here’s how you fix a problem with your Tablet PC’ and he’s wrong, then the company can be held legally liable.”
8. Speak for yourself
Make sure it’s clear that you’re writing for yourself.
9. Think about reactions before you post.
Lenn: “Think about how your blog entry would look on the front page of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.”