Blogging: A double-edged sword

Employee blogs can do much to enhance a company's reputation, but they can also cause damage if clear blogging guidelines aren't there

PR company Edelman called for more employer guidelines on blogging this week, in order to safeguard both companies and employees from the potentially damaging consequences of blogs for both parties.

In a newly published white paper, Edelman and Intelliseek found that employee blogs have enhanced the reputations of such companies as Microsoft and Sun. However, high profile sackings due to negative blog postings have hurt the reputations of several companies, as in the case of Google, Delta Air Lines, Waterstone’s and Friendster.

The white paper — Talking From The Inside Out: The Rise of Employee Bloggers — also quotes a June 2005 survey from Edelman which found that almost 70 percent of companies do not have clear guidelines on blogging, which puts both bloggers and companies at risk.

The white paper quoted a recent Intelliseek study which found that comments on blogs "are more influential in determining consumer intent to purchase than news stories or advertising about the product." It also examined the various approaches companies are taking toward employee blogs.

"Google uses its own blogging product, Blogger.com, to create and manage several hundred internal blogs. Many are used for project collaboration, while others are used for social interaction at work," the white paper said.

"We have clear evidence that consumers and other important stakeholders make decisions about products and brands based largely on what a company's employees say about them," said Christopher Hannegan, senior vice-president and director of Edelman's Employee Engagement Practice.

"Now blogs provide these same employees with access to a mass audience as never before. So companies need to understand that two powerful forces are beginning to converge in way that will have a direct and growing impact on their business," Hannegan added.