Online Participation GuidelinesAlthough perhaps influenced by watching the wonderful “Yes Minister” in the 1980’s, my image of the British Civil Service conjures up an image of leather armchairs, men only clubs and political machinations. It would not have been where I would have first thought to look for a set of nicely concise guidelines about “online participation” as they so succinctly put it. However, there they are!

Their guidelines, the main points of which I have reproduced below, cover general participation online no matter what the medium – however, the advice I find to be particularly applicable to corporate blogging or indeed blogging in a small business environment as well. They are clear and to the point which is key when you want to get your message across to people in your own organisation, but reflect most of the ideals that we should bring to interaction online.

1. Be credible: Be accurate, fair, thorough and transparent

2. Be consistent: Encourage constructive criticism and deliberation. Be cordial, honest and professional at all times.

3. Be responsive: When you gain insight, share it where appropriate.

4. Be integrated: Wherever possible, align online participation with other offline communications.

5. Be a civil servant: Remember that you are an ambassador for your organisation. Wherever possible, disclose your position as a representative of your department or agency.

(Full details of the guidelines can be found here)

However, for me, just as important are some of the follow up points additional points that they highlight in text which follows that. They are so relevant to all we do online that I thought you might like to print them and stick them to your monitor.

Just to reiterate: don’t think of blogs and online media any differently in terms of what you should or should not say from when you are representing your company in any other situation. However, do remember that online everything happens at breakneck speed … for both the good and the bad things. Backtracking is not an easy option when the information can have immediately been distributed far and wide. Speed and breadth of distribution are two of the key benefits of blogging and online media … unless you want to withdraw something!

So, as you participate online or as you draw up your own company blogging guidelines, you could do a lot worse than refer back to the points made by the Civil Service about how to conduct yourself. Stuffy and British? Not really … more sensible and corporate.

(Hat tip to Laurel Papworth for the find.)

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