Should corporate blogs exclude PR?

Should employee – and executive – blogs exclude public relations?  Interesting post by Chris Anderson (author of the Long Tail) on how blogging has inverted corporate norms, particularly shifting from secrecy to transparency as a default communications mode.

He states that employee bloggers are increasingly trusted to blog without “PR review” and that there is a new “radical transparency” in some companies including early product development discussions, CEO venting and management in public.

Clearly the public relations function, cannot (and I believe should not) seek to control all communications from employees (from blogs to presentations to chats in the pub).  But there has to be a role for ensuring conversations do not overstep the mark and cause either legal or other crisis for which PR will be expected to pick up the pieces.  PR must be seen as the experts regarding employee blogging and other communications by employees – by opening up debate internally on strategies, skills training (whilst not impacting on employees’ original voices) and ensuring awareness of how online issues can quickly become corporate crisis.

Blogging may be no different to executives being able to speak off the cuff at other times and openness is to be applauded.  But this doesn’t mean to say they don’t need PR counsel to avoid faux pas which frequently bring down those who speak injudiciously in public.  The trail of celebrities who then call their PRs to get them out of trouble should be avoided by company personnel.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

4 thoughts on “Should corporate blogs exclude PR?”

  1. The written word can be mulled over, so a throw away verbal comment should have less of an impact, but can also come back to bite you on the bottom. But in terms of causing a detrimental effect, blogs have a more profound effect as the text they contain remains online forever!

    Maybe it’s time for a contract of confidentility to be drawn up like you would get if your worked for the MoD – defence being the key. Everyone wants to defend their reputations after all.

  2. I don’t think using legal constraints is the best approach in the world of open communications. Of course, there need to be some limits on what would be permitted to be discussed publically – which are generally covered in contracts of employment. But having authentic voices rather than sanitised messages – or scared silence – from within organisations is what is making corporate blogging such a powerful part of the new communications.

  3. I’ve argued something similar at Forward: http://www.forward-moving.com/blog/2006/11/26/ghostbusters/. PR people should certainly seek an advisory role and there’s scope for a blog editing role – but we should beware of blithely ghost writing. Imagine the scene: the CEO is speaking at a conference; simulaneously, the PR ghostwriter is responding to comments on the CEO or corporate blog in the CEO’s name. Dishonest, untransparent and too easily found out.

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