Our recent webinar on business-to-business blogging resulted in more questions than we had time to answer so Mark Schaefer agreed to provide a personal reply on our blog to each question.
For our final installment, we’re combining the final two related questions:
Polly: I work for a small division in a large global company. Legal constraints are huge for us. Have you seen organizations getting around this issue by using some kind of disclaimer?
Jill: If you are a law firm how do you get beyond all the legal issues lawyers come up with? I would think strategies for professional services are more challenging?
These are both good questions … and very serious ones too!
I worked in large corporations for many years and came to appreciate the very valuable contributions of the legal department. In my experience, they are well-meaning, business-oriented professionals who don’t deserve the bad rap they often receive.
Here is my best advice: If lawyers are raising legal issues, listen to them. They probably know what they’re talking about.
Despite whatever your main line of business is, when you blog, you become a publisher. Your blog is a permanent and searchable record that can be used by competitors, litigants, regulators, and other people who would wish to do you harm. Your public record is a big deal.
Instead of resisting legal involvement, my advice would be to embrace it. Work together to have a very thorough understanding of what is fair game in terms of content. Together, develop a robust framework everybody can live with. If that framework exists, lawyers should be able to step out of the daily life of the blog and not require approval of every post.
Once these guidelines are in place, codify it in a way so that even if somebody new started working on the blog, a clear understanding of the rules would follow with continuity.
It would probably be useful to touch base with legal on a regular basis to see if anything has changed from their perspective, and also to just keep a great professional relationship up with these important folks.
And remember, blog comments and your answers are also part of your publishing effort and fall under the same guidelines.
This is probably not the answer many people want to hear, but I think it is the advice you NEED to hear. Company lawyers keep us out of jail… so listen to them.