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February 11, 2010
Blogging From Whose Podium?

Where should employee bloggers be able to blog? Should they blog on their own sites as well as the company's blogs or post for the company only?

Forrester's newly disclosed policy of restricting subject-matter bloggers to its corporate blogs raises an interesting social media question. Is this a free-speech issue or one of protecting corporate intellectual property?

Forrester is a research company that no doubt hires analysts with prior experience in a given field. Shouldn't the analysts be able to share their cumulative knowledge from whatever electronic locale they want? A Forrester spokeswoman says, no.

"We believe," she explains, "we can best serve our clients in their professional roles by aggregating our intellectual property in one place -- at Forrester.com."

Whose intellectual property is involved here, an analyst's or Forrester's once the analyst starts working there?

We side with Forrester. As long as an analyst is accepting Forrester paychecks, he or she works in an enhanced blogging environment, with the benefit of information and insights that stem from that setting.

That seems pretty clear. Especially when you consider, notes Joe Ciarallo on PRNewser, several former Forrester analysts left to start their own company, Altimeter Group, but built their personal brands, partly by blogging, while they were at Forrester.

A paycheck should signify loyalty to the payor. That needn't make one a corporate serf, but an exclusive corporate blogger so long as the employment relationship holds. Forrester allows its blogger analysts to post privately on subjects unrelated to their work, as it should.  

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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