Internal communication -- the real challenge of employee blogging
The more I think of it, the more obvious it becomes. The only long-term tool a company can use to "control" blogging employees is internal communication; the things we do to support a corporate culture where all employees understand what the company is doing, where it's going and why.
The post where I compared corporate blogging policies generated quite some interest. I've been contacted both by media and others, many with the same underlying question: Is policies the way to control blogging employees?
Even if I think it's a good idea to have a policy, I've answered that a policy is just a basic document. Employee blogging requires trust rather than control. We've never had total control of what a company communicates and blogging amplifies that.
But the questions, and the concerns, are both real and logical. Even those of us that don't believe in control, probably would agree that a healthy company has a clear business strategy and it's external communication - employee blogs included - should support that strategy.
So what do we do, then? We neither can nor should control employee blogs. Also our corporate blogs need to be based on one or a few persons, and their ideas and opinions.
The way I see it the only reasonable answer to the question is internal communication. Companies need to make employees so involved in and committed to the business strategy that they will be out there "living it". Not because they're told so, but because they want to. Because they understand and accept the strategy.
This is nothing strange or new. Most companies have been trying to do this for a long time. Bloggers don't change the purposes or methods of traditional internal communication (but maybe the tools). Bloggers are merely one more reason to do it well.
It is strange, though, that this perspective isn't discussed more. Could it be a result of the extrovert nature of bloggers, and therefore blogging? Or is it the same old story... External communication is visible. You compete with others. You may win prizes. It's the sexy side of the business. Internal communications is about organizational culture. It's difficult. There are very few quick wins.
Regardless of the reason, this is something I'm sure a lot of companies with many employee bloggers will learn. Internal communication is the tool to manage an organization that opens up to the world.