This morning, IBM has unveiled a big internal initiative around blogging.  While there are already hundreds of IBMers blogging, both on the internet as well as IBM's internal w3, today's announcement is designed to take that effort to the next level.  From Christopher Barger's internal announcement:

We're not here to tell you what to say -- that's up to you.... But one of the benefits of being part of a vast enterprise like IBM is that no matter what you're doing, you're not just out there on your own. We are here to provide you news and information...connections to other bloggers...help and ideas...and guest posts from leading industry bloggers. We're trying to make blogging easier for you, should you decide to enter this new and exciting space.
Unsurprisingly, I've been part of the scene leading up to today's effort.  I can't claim any major credit, though I did participate in the wiki that was used to create the blogging guidelines.  My main contact has been David Berger, a progressive and visionary guy in IBM's corporate communications team.  David's been able to provide me some good advice and insight in the last six months or so, and I'm pleased to see his passion and evangelism come out in a big way.

Understandably, much of the interest today will be on the blogging guidelines, let's get that out of the way.  You can view the IBM Blogging Policy and Guidelines as a PDF here.

I suspect that for most readers, this policy/guidelines document will be quite a surprise.  While of course it had input from many parts of the IBM organization, it's written in humanistic and real-world -- read: not bureaucratic -- terms.  It recognizes the value of individual voices, yet the reality of where those voices originate.  It provides a mechanism for IBM to protect its overall market messages -- yet also provides aircover for IBMers who speak out.

Some of the specific points in the guidelines that are important to me personally, based on the experience of 2½ years blogging and much longer as a public IBM/Lotus spokesperson:
  • "We believe in transparency and honesty."
  • "[B]ring your own personality to the forefront; say what is on your mind."
  • "The most successful bloggers are those who pay attention to what others are saying about the topic they want to write about, and generously reference and link to them."
  • "When you see misrepresentations made about IBM in the media, by analysts or by other bloggers, you may certainly use your blog -- or join someone else's -- to point that out. Always do so with respect and with the facts. Also, if you speak about a competitor, you must make sure that what you say is factual and that it does not disparage the competitor."
  • "If you make an error, be upfront about your mistake and correct it quickly."

One of the other cool features on IBM's intranet today is an interview with our own "A-list" bloggers -- Sam Ruby, Grady Booch, Bob Sutor, Catherine Helzerman, and myself.   We were each asked about why we blog, advice for other IBMers, and tips on blogs that we read.  Ultimately, I explained how y'all are my motivation for doing this:
As a sales/marketing leader, being able to have an intimate one-to-one relationship with thousands of customers who buy/deploy/manage the product I sell is immensely rewarding.
One last bit, there are already several IBM bloggers on my blogroll (under "colleagues") already.  You should check them out.  While they vary in the amount of IBM-related topics covered on their sites, they are all part of the conversation already.  I expect I'll be adding a number of additional links to that part of the blogroll in the coming months.

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  1. 1  Christopher Byrne http://www.controlscaddy.com/ |

    And what billing code will employees use to track their blogging time?:-)

  1. 2  Ed Brill www.edbrill.com |

    Some links:

    CNET: { Link }

    Heise Online: { Link }

    vowe.net: { Link }

    Scobleizer: { Link }

    Colleague James Snell: { Link }

    Colleague Sam Ruby: { Link }

    Colleague Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah (good reading): { Link }

  1. 3  Nathan T. Freeman  |

    "Colleague Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah (good reading):"

    Ummmmm... quite a ramble, I'd say.

    Anyway, congrats on getting these out and the attention its generating.

  1. 4  Ed Brill www.edbrill.com |

    has something to say about the new policy:

    { Link }

    I do believe IBM is a very honest company but my recent experience leads me to believe they have a long way to go before they become transparent. For "A-list"ers who report on the world from the stratosphere there may well be real transparency into IBM strategy but for the grunts in the trenches, I really doubt transparency into their world would be allowed.

  1. 5  Peter de Haas http://www.peterdehaas.com |

    Most of us understand the 'power of blogging' I think. Besides the internal announcements and blogging rules, why should IBM employees start blogging now.

    What has limited them in the past ? IBM has some realy good rolemodels internally already who have shown what blogging can do for the company.

    So .. Why now ... What's new ...?

  1. 6  Ed Brill www.edbrill.com |

    @5 - I think that anything that raises awareness of a technology trend to 300,000 people is a good thing. As bloggers, we might think that blogging is mainstream, and with almost 10 million blogs online today, maybe that's true. Still, a lot of people don't know much about it, or might have had concerns about blogging within the context of their IBM responsibilities.

    What's Microsoft's blogging policy?

  1. 7  Ed Brill http://www.edbrill.com |

    @5 - "We" is sitll not everyone. I think that anything that raises awareness of a technology trend to 300,000 people is a good thing. As bloggers, we might think that blogging is mainstream, and with almost 10 million blogs online today, maybe that's true. Still, a lot of people don't know much about it, or might have had concerns about blogging within the context of their IBM responsibilities.

    What's Microsoft's blogging policy?

  1. 8  Tony Cocks http://www.tonycocks.com |

    @6 Thats a good question. So I had a look and there are no formal guidelines. Just 'Be Smart' is one quote I saw. Personally I hope we never have formal guidelines, and isn't this covered in spirit at the very least by general company guidelines.

  1. 9  Peter de Haas http://www.peterdehaas.com |

    @6

    I know Microsoft has blogging guidelines / a policy in the making. Not sure if it is finalised. A first readthrough the IBM policy tells me they don't differ much though.

    Meanwhile Robert Scoble posted a good insight to common sence : { Link }

  1. 10  Edward Villanueva http://yourmiami.blogspot.com |

    THanks for all the link Ed.