Corporate blogging lessons, Google style

Michael Arrington is right. Google’s bloggers are learning an important lesson today.

When you speak in public and everyone knows who you work for you ARE representing your company. Even if you think you aren’t.

I know lots of you disagree, but you’re wrong. I’ve seen people get fired for things they’ve done on their own time, at a bar. Or a party after a conference.

Yeah, you can put some distance between you and your employer and keep things a little calmer if you write a disclaimer at the top of your posts. Something like “I am speaking for myself, not for my employer.”

But even then I still am building a mental model of your employer based on what you’re writing.

If you are a jerk, I’m going to assume your employer hires jerks.

I’ve noticed that people respond to ME differently because of how someone else at PodTech treated them. And I definitely hear it when I’ve been a jerk to someone else, or when I say something that reflects poorly on PodTech. There’s more than 30 people working at PodTech now and many of them don’t appreciate it when I write something idiotic (which is often).

I’m human, I make mistakes. So do employees at Google.

But those of us who work for corporations need to recognize that every word we write is seen as coming from the company in some way. It might not be right, but that’s the way it is.

If you don’t like it go work for yourself. Of course then you won’t get the flow that comes with being able to say “I’m a doctor working at Google.”

23 thoughts on “Corporate blogging lessons, Google style

  1. Even if only a few people know you, you are the face, the voice and, in fact, the company. That is why EVERY employee can affect the company with ANY public utterance made. It goes well beyond any blogs, any public appearances, speeches. WAY beyond.

  2. Even if only a few people know you, you are the face, the voice and, in fact, the company. That is why EVERY employee can affect the company with ANY public utterance made. It goes well beyond any blogs, any public appearances, speeches. WAY beyond.

  3. Dan: that’s NOT true. Corporate employees DO NOT have free speech. At least not in “at will” work states. Plus, most companies have you sign agreements that say you will not talk to the press or make public statements. So, they have good grounds for firing.

    There are many bloggers who’ve been fired. Read our book for interviews with several.

  4. Dan: that’s NOT true. Corporate employees DO NOT have free speech. At least not in “at will” work states. Plus, most companies have you sign agreements that say you will not talk to the press or make public statements. So, they have good grounds for firing.

    There are many bloggers who’ve been fired. Read our book for interviews with several.

  5. Robert, I’m not sure I *completely* agree with your post. In principle, you’re right, and perhaps this specific post was just a clear example of your case. This was a Google-branded blog. Her opinion was inappropriate in that context.

    But if taken to an extreme, your position says that anyone who works for someone else who posts a view on their personal blog should be subject to discipline for what they write. That would be a huge stifle on free speech if it were true.

    You may well be right that if the public at large knows who you work for and you act like a jerk on your personal site, they may conclude your employer hires jerks, but I’m not sure that’s grounds for discipline or termination. I bet a decent lawyer could win a wrongful termination suit in a case like that.

    As long as you’re clear that you’re expressing a personal viewpoint, write the blog on your own equipment and time and post it on a site you personally own (or at least one that isn’t owned or controlled or branded by your employer), I think the First Amendment (at least until its repeal) trumps all here.

    But then I work for myself, so….

  6. Robert, I’m not sure I *completely* agree with your post. In principle, you’re right, and perhaps this specific post was just a clear example of your case. This was a Google-branded blog. Her opinion was inappropriate in that context.

    But if taken to an extreme, your position says that anyone who works for someone else who posts a view on their personal blog should be subject to discipline for what they write. That would be a huge stifle on free speech if it were true.

    You may well be right that if the public at large knows who you work for and you act like a jerk on your personal site, they may conclude your employer hires jerks, but I’m not sure that’s grounds for discipline or termination. I bet a decent lawyer could win a wrongful termination suit in a case like that.

    As long as you’re clear that you’re expressing a personal viewpoint, write the blog on your own equipment and time and post it on a site you personally own (or at least one that isn’t owned or controlled or branded by your employer), I think the First Amendment (at least until its repeal) trumps all here.

    But then I work for myself, so….

  7. I agree completely. Some people never consider the millions (in some cases, billions) of dollars companies invest in creating a particular image and in generating goodwill. A single employee _can_ make a significant impact on these efforts, by showing–as Scoble says–what sorts of people are working for that company.

    Think of how a single rude customer service rep can ruin your opinion of a company, and then multiply that by some order of magnitude–whatever order of magnitude is represented by the number of people who read a given blog. The customer service rep might have had a bad moment and alienated a single customer or prospect. A blog can do so to hundreds, thousands, or even millions.

  8. I agree completely. Some people never consider the millions (in some cases, billions) of dollars companies invest in creating a particular image and in generating goodwill. A single employee _can_ make a significant impact on these efforts, by showing–as Scoble says–what sorts of people are working for that company.

    Think of how a single rude customer service rep can ruin your opinion of a company, and then multiply that by some order of magnitude–whatever order of magnitude is represented by the number of people who read a given blog. The customer service rep might have had a bad moment and alienated a single customer or prospect. A blog can do so to hundreds, thousands, or even millions.

  9. Hey people, please, tell to google guy(s) that PENALTY for EXTERNAL SEO FACTORS is NONSENSE, because it opens the way for de-SEO – techniques to downrank sites of competitors! Hey, everyone can programmatically (in special way) spam guestbooks, blogs, directories, “bad neighborhoods” with links to downrank their competitors! It seems that Google programmers don’t understand simple logical things… shame on google programmers!

    Google MUST remove algorithms of PENALTY for external SEO techniques immediately! Or there will be a lot of google de-SEO firms very soon, which will heavily undermine corporative google image in the following way:

    “We are offering services for downranking your competitors in google
    - Sandboxing $299
    - 30 Filtering $99
    Any website or separate web pages with PR lower than 6. Guarantee.”

    Shame on google programmers!

    If google do not remove penalties for external factors, then it will have BIG TROUBLES very soon. Many webmasters will say good bye to PARANOID Google, and will say hello to CLEAN Yahoo!

    2-3 years ago there was a possibility just to write a good high-quality and relevant articles, create web pages, follow guidelines and that was enough to appear in top google search results. It was a significant advantage of google – to rank sites not only for internal SEO tricks & backlinks, but also for _relevant_ content. 2-3 years ago the factor of relevancy of content was important as well as the factor of amount of relevant back links.
    Nowadays, algorithm of google is completely different than 2-3 years ago, and the factor of back links is significantly more important than relevancy of content! A lot of high-quality sites were downranked, undervalued or just partially disappeared from top index for no obvious reason. I read a lot of google patents, and I must admit that there are serious logical mistakes and contradictions in fundamental assumptions of many algorithms. I call them NOISE ALGORITHMS, because while performing “smart” filtering and evaluations of site rankings these algorithms introduce a lot of unnecessary informational noise and disorder, instead of just finding relevant content.

    It sad to say, but nowadays google reminds me the old AltaVista.

  10. Hey people, please, tell to google guy(s) that PENALTY for EXTERNAL SEO FACTORS is NONSENSE, because it opens the way for de-SEO – techniques to downrank sites of competitors! Hey, everyone can programmatically (in special way) spam guestbooks, blogs, directories, “bad neighborhoods” with links to downrank their competitors! It seems that Google programmers don’t understand simple logical things… shame on google programmers!

    Google MUST remove algorithms of PENALTY for external SEO techniques immediately! Or there will be a lot of google de-SEO firms very soon, which will heavily undermine corporative google image in the following way:

    “We are offering services for downranking your competitors in google
    - Sandboxing $299
    - 30 Filtering $99
    Any website or separate web pages with PR lower than 6. Guarantee.”

    Shame on google programmers!

    If google do not remove penalties for external factors, then it will have BIG TROUBLES very soon. Many webmasters will say good bye to PARANOID Google, and will say hello to CLEAN Yahoo!

    2-3 years ago there was a possibility just to write a good high-quality and relevant articles, create web pages, follow guidelines and that was enough to appear in top google search results. It was a significant advantage of google – to rank sites not only for internal SEO tricks & backlinks, but also for _relevant_ content. 2-3 years ago the factor of relevancy of content was important as well as the factor of amount of relevant back links.
    Nowadays, algorithm of google is completely different than 2-3 years ago, and the factor of back links is significantly more important than relevancy of content! A lot of high-quality sites were downranked, undervalued or just partially disappeared from top index for no obvious reason. I read a lot of google patents, and I must admit that there are serious logical mistakes and contradictions in fundamental assumptions of many algorithms. I call them NOISE ALGORITHMS, because while performing “smart” filtering and evaluations of site rankings these algorithms introduce a lot of unnecessary informational noise and disorder, instead of just finding relevant content.

    It sad to say, but nowadays google reminds me the old AltaVista.

  11. Hey Scoble,

    I totally agree with what you say about being tied to your company and what you say reflects the corporate view, but when one posts about human issues money does not rule all. “Do No Evil” has become “Anything for Money” just as long as they click the link.

    Google has the motto “Do No Evil” but hiring people who believe that money is greater than the common American who wants a chance to succeed and have some basic health insurance coverage shows the shallowness of the haves and haves nots (The basic Google option pool greed). “Sicko” finally shows the view of the peron who doesn’t have thousands of dollars for basic coverage a year yet wants the basic American dream of “Work and Prosper”.

    When working for a company and posting under the corporate banner you become the company and its view. It is very easy for one to get a a peronal blog and not post under the corporate banner to say their true feelings. Hell, Scoble you do it yourself with your wordpress blog that is not affiliated with podcast.net.

    I feel this person shoud be punished and google should feel the heat for hiring him or her. Just another Google doctorate who has changed the better for the worst. I have a feeling Google will have many more of these in the future.

    Unsheeple

  12. Hey Scoble,

    I totally agree with what you say about being tied to your company and what you say reflects the corporate view, but when one posts about human issues money does not rule all. “Do No Evil” has become “Anything for Money” just as long as they click the link.

    Google has the motto “Do No Evil” but hiring people who believe that money is greater than the common American who wants a chance to succeed and have some basic health insurance coverage shows the shallowness of the haves and haves nots (The basic Google option pool greed). “Sicko” finally shows the view of the peron who doesn’t have thousands of dollars for basic coverage a year yet wants the basic American dream of “Work and Prosper”.

    When working for a company and posting under the corporate banner you become the company and its view. It is very easy for one to get a a peronal blog and not post under the corporate banner to say their true feelings. Hell, Scoble you do it yourself with your wordpress blog that is not affiliated with podcast.net.

    I feel this person shoud be punished and google should feel the heat for hiring him or her. Just another Google doctorate who has changed the better for the worst. I have a feeling Google will have many more of these in the future.

    Unsheeple

  13. She was just participating in ‘conversational marketing’. The same type you, Scoble, and the Battelle lead FM crowd were doing.

    Only you don’t like it when someone else does it but, you can’t understand why people got so worked up when you guys did it?

    Tom

  14. She was just participating in ‘conversational marketing’. The same type you, Scoble, and the Battelle lead FM crowd were doing.

    Only you don’t like it when someone else does it but, you can’t understand why people got so worked up when you guys did it?

    Tom

  15. What I find in some ways more disturbing than the original post is the follow up http://google-health-ads.blogspot.com/2007/07/my-opinion-and-googles.html

    Lauren Turner states: “…advertising is a very democratic and effective way to participate in a public dialogue.” Advertising is in fact the antithesis to a democratic process. Like much else in our society, money will buy you results. All votes are not weighted equally.

    Furthermore, and time will tell if these rumors are true, there is a lot of discussion of censorial damage control on Google’s part: http://blog.outer-court.com/forum/101004.html#id101120
    I have tried twice to send a comment to the feedback link on the blog in question only to receive an NDR. Here is a link to the comment & NDR: http://blog.outer-court.com/forum/101004.html#id101162

  16. What I find in some ways more disturbing than the original post is the follow up http://google-health-ads.blogspot.com/2007/07/my-opinion-and-googles.html

    Lauren Turner states: “…advertising is a very democratic and effective way to participate in a public dialogue.” Advertising is in fact the antithesis to a democratic process. Like much else in our society, money will buy you results. All votes are not weighted equally.

    Furthermore, and time will tell if these rumors are true, there is a lot of discussion of censorial damage control on Google’s part: http://blog.outer-court.com/forum/101004.html#id101120
    I have tried twice to send a comment to the feedback link on the blog in question only to receive an NDR. Here is a link to the comment & NDR: http://blog.outer-court.com/forum/101004.html#id101162

  17. Totally Right my Friend. No question about it.

    Not only when you speak in public, but also when you answer the customer services phone, some operators think they are not the company.

    I have very though time explaining that either they do not like the company they work they have to solve my problem.

    Going to the point of your post, some corporate blogs have a very strict policies to follow. There is a department to police what you post and what you answer.

    Mario Ruiz
    http://www.oursheet.com

  18. Totally Right my Friend. No question about it.

    Not only when you speak in public, but also when you answer the customer services phone, some operators think they are not the company.

    I have very though time explaining that either they do not like the company they work they have to solve my problem.

    Going to the point of your post, some corporate blogs have a very strict policies to follow. There is a department to police what you post and what you answer.

    Mario Ruiz
    http://www.oursheet.com

  19. scoble : What’s your take on the original article in question?

    “When you speak in public and everyone knows who you work for you ARE representing your company”
    More so when we are dealing with a post in a ‘team blog’.

  20. scoble : What’s your take on the original article in question?

    “When you speak in public and everyone knows who you work for you ARE representing your company”
    More so when we are dealing with a post in a ‘team blog’.

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