Congratulations to the ABC
Looking at the title of this post let me reassure those of you who know me, I have not gone stark raving mad. Today, at the Media 140 Conference in Sydney, the ABC publicly released its policy in relation to its staff use of social media.
I genuinely believe that Mark Scott, the Managing Director of the ABC, deserves congratulations for this policy. Like Telstra, the ABC is in the media business and guiding staff engagement online can be a tricky issue.
For those who follow this area closely, Telstra took the somewhat ground-breaking decision last April to release its social media guidelines (Telstra’s 3Rs of Social Media Engagement – PDF) to the public and to encourage feedback. Mr Scott has also gone public with the national broadcaster’s social media policy. A bit risky, but well worth the risk if Telstra’s experience is anything to go by.
The one thing I have learnt about social media is that it pays to be upfront and transparent. Not everyone agreed with our 3Rs social media policy, but there was a genuine appreciation of the fact that Telstra was willing to subject it to outside scrutiny.
I also think that Mark Scott has got the balance pretty right between protecting the ABC’s hard-earned reputation and encouraging ABC staff to be active users of social media. For those who recall, Telstra took a similar position with its 3Rs policy – the 3Rs are representation, responsibility and respect.
Telstra’s policy requires our staff to identify who they are when they talk about Telstra and to make clear that they are making their comments in a personal capacity rather that in an official company capacity. It requires staff not to divulge confidential company information or to act in a way that could bring the Telstra into disrepute. It also requires them to be respectful of the rules and mores of the socal media communities in which they are engaging.
Importantly – and I am glad the ABC has also seen fit to take a similar position – the Telstra sensible use policy does not prohibit staff from using online media during work time; rather it makes clear that this personal use should not adversely impact on employees’ ability to get their job done.
I have no idea whether ABC management used Telstra’s 3Rs policy as any sort of corporate sounding board. I certainly don’t mind and I’d be flattered if they have. Regardless, the ABC’s social media policy seems to get the balance right. And just like Telstra, I am sure the ABC’s policy will receive a range of both barbs and bouquets – and that is also the way it should be.