If an employee takes the initiative to build a brand external to company time, does the company still own a piece of that brand?
This is the question I faced last week as I was discussing the future direction of the digital practice at my agency. My boss thoughtfully pointed out that, as much work as I did to blog, tweet, and network there was a part of that value enhanced by having client work to back up my expertise.
Most of my hard-core social media peers will probably argue with me on this. They would say they brought equity into the company with their brands and those brands grew in tandem with their companies. The Wall Street Journal, though brings a little more clarity into the picture with an article they published this morning.
As far as the WSJ article goes I am going to take a couple of contrary positions:
1) If they want their own blog; an employee should have one external to company time and external to company resources.
2) Employees should make clear delineation every profile whether or not the employee speaks for themselves or for the company. A simple statement like “All Opinions Are My Own” should be sufficient.
3) If an employee does need to have a co-branded profile, that profile should a) have the brand name in it, b) exist as a profile owned by the company and, c) subject to the exact same standards of external communication as any other medium.
I love the fact that I can have an external blog to talk about what I want. However, I am under no assumption that I am going to be paid more because of what I do on this blog. In my view, I maintain this blog because it helps me remain sharp, hone my opinions and, of course, annoy the bejesus out of my friends.
If you want your brand to be a reason you are paid more then start your own company blog. Otherwise, as my boss is probably thinking while reading this, quit ranting and get back to work.