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Michael O'Connor Clarke Michael O'Connor Clarke is proud to be a card-carrying flack. Currently based in Toronto, Michael has spent almost 20 years in corporate communications and marketing roles. He started blogging at almost the same time as he first moved into PR - over five years ago. Now he's trying to figure out how to combine these two areas of expertise for the benefit of clue-seeking clients. In his time, Michael has pitched people, products, processes and pop-tarts, but he has a congenital inability to peddle fluff. Email Michael

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November 9, 2004

Code Epode

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Posted by Michael O'Connor Clarke

Serendipity. Or something.

Just hours before I posted my note, below, Forrester analyst Charlene Li posted her own thoughts on corporate blogging policies and a "Sample Blogger Code of Ethics", complete with a public Wiki wherein she's encouraging edits, comments and discussion on the drafts.

Interesting stuff. I'm not sure I could ever agree with two of the points in her Code of Ethics:

4. I will preserve the original post, using notations to show where I have made changes so as to maintain the integrity of my publishing.
5. I will never delete a post.

...but the rest of the points seem generally reasonable.

At the same time, I can't help feeling a certain vague concern about the overall concept. This needs further consideration, but my gut is telling me that the very idea of bloggers signing up for a homogenized code of ethics seems to be a concept in conflict with the nature of the medium.

The idea is clearly not without merit, and Charlene is careful to point out that her points are just intended as samples: "every company and blogger will have to modify them to meet their own needs." But I still have misgivings. I'll sleep on it.

Meanwhile, her "Sample Corporate Blogging Policy" is good common sense stuff.

Her first point, though, speaks to the importance of disclaimers:

"1. Make it clear that the views expressed in the blog are yours alone and do not necessarily represent the views of your employer."

I understand the urge for some kind of "safe harbour" language, but I would still caution that you shouldn't think you can hide behind the disclaimer.

It's stretching a point, I know, but look at the example of Mark Cuban. The NBA just fined him $100,000 for a comment he made on his blog. Would that have happened if he was just some guy ranting about the NBA's rules on a personal blog? The fact that he owns the Dallas Mavericks is not something he can step away from on his blog (nor would he want to) - and no kind of disclaimer is going to separate him from the rules and policies of the world in which he operates.

[Had I the time and energy, I'd have composed this post in Pindaric form, to make the title work. Stuff it. Far too busy to versify. Woof woof.]

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