Do You Have a Blog Policy?

Or, do all organizations with a blog need a policy?

How do you determine when a nonprofit blogging policy is needed?
How do organizations create policies?

Here’s a story from behind the firewall of a large nonprofit organization – the names and particulars have been changed – but here’s how the blogging process unfolded:

As the organization’s blogger, I facilitated creating the policy. There was/is a lot of fear about encouraging the use of social media in our ranks, so it seemed like a doable first step. Laying down rules makes everyone think they have more control and it helped everyone to feel better. My ulterior motive was to send the message that using social media is ok and even good for our institution. The more we tell our story, the more the public can understand our mission.

In truth, the policy (a term I’m discouraged from using since we can’t really create a policy about what employees do or say on their own time – we use “guidelines”) is quite vague. It goes on for a while but really just says, “Use common sense and please don’t say stupid stuff. In fact, we’d love it if you told your personal institutional story in a constructive way.”

To my knowledge, no one had ever told employees that they were allowed to talk about their job before. I think many were even scared to do it. Since we often operate in sensitive areas, most rules prohibit discussing specific client relations, etc. This opened the door for more transparency and handed more control of the message over to the employees and volunteers the organization belongs to.

I draft the policy and then it got handed around to pretty much all our many employees for edits and approval. It was about a 6 month process to getting it approved and distributed.

So, is a blogging or social networking/media policy just a matter of cut and paste and edit similar web site policies, accepted use policies, and other types of technology related internal policies? Or is there a value in having the discussion?

courtesy of Beth Kanter