Early on when writing the blog, I came across an issue that was so exciting to write about that I spent an evening crafting it up.  It had links, pictures, and was well-sourced.

But then I discovered that the issue involved a client of the law firm.  Uh-oh. It was then that I decided it was time to set up my own set of internal rules that I would try to run the blog by.

I summarized that process in an entry entitled — "The Blog Post I Didn’t Publish — Will Your Employees Do the Same?" nearly 30 months ago.

In the past three years, I’ve worked hard to play by those parameters. Those include: 

  • No discussions of cases I’m working on or that others from the firm are working on, without explicit client approval.
  • No references to clients, again, without approval from the client first
  • No use of confidential or "private" (i.e. not protected by privilege but still not public) information.

There are other informal guidelines that I also try to follow including the concepts outlined in IBM’s Social Media policy about adding value and being respectful.

Why do I bring this up again now? Because there have been two stories that I’ve been asked to write about by some readers in recent weeks.  They’ve made national headlines and it would be natural to write about those issues.  But I’ve had to explain that those matters fall within the guidelines I’ve established for myself and, as a result, I would not be writing about it.

A few people seemed a bit surprised by that.  As one said, "You have RULES for your blog?" Well, yes I do. Or try to.

Which leads me to this: Do your employees know the rules or guidelines that they are to play by when it comes to using Twitter, Facebook, or other types of social media? If you’re not confident about the answer to that question, perhaps it’s time to think about some guidelines to share with them.  Otherwise, you leave it to their own discretion, which may — or may not — be the same as your level of discretion.

Need a place to start? Compliance Building has a wonderful list of 150+ guidelines for your consideration.