Tom Reynolds unemployed corporate blogger

Last Friday Tom Reynolds was let go from Telstra, which by itself is not a big issue, people get let go everyday.  Where this little story gets a little interesting is Tom is a blogger, and not just a personal blogger but a corporate blogger on Telstra’s site called Now We Are Talking.  Ok could be touchy but not a really big PR issue.  Wrong!  2 days prior Tom had just written an inspiring post on how he was going to start working to open up the communication between Telstra and their customers, through his blog!  Oops.  Tom was talking about Scoble’s Laws of Corporate blogging, a fantastic list of 20 things you should do while corporate blogging.  Unfortunately Tom now feels Scoble is a fool (is that a bit of link bait Tom? ).

Now there is a slightly funny smell coming from Telstra.  Was his post the reason?  Telstra are saying no, others are saying yes a typical he said she said.

Two points of note.

Firstly no mention of the issue in any of the Now We Are Talking blogs, ok maybe no one sees this as a big story?  Only a few references right now in Technorati.  Rod Bruem took the time to comment on Cameron Reilly’s post, it would be good to see a post from him on the situation, but they might be a bit busy with other PR issues.

Second point, your HR processes and blogging in my view the big issue here.  There has been a bit of talk over the last couple of years about employee blogging policies in Australia, ok the lack of them.  Eventually we will see them, but what about your other policies, ie termination.  How do you let someone go in a manner that does not damage your brand, as has happened (or happening) with Tom?  Are your manager’s trained in how to handle this? 

The story has been picked up by News.com.au’s blogs, and other notable Aussie blogs.  I wonder when the tipping point will be and there is a formal reply from Telstra?

Overall, if you are going to have employees who blog make sure you know how to handle them within all of your processes!  Make sure you also know how to handle to blogosphere as well.

9 thoughts on “Tom Reynolds unemployed corporate blogger

  1. This is an intriguing issue to me because the blogsphere is so new on the corporate radar. I’m sure the lawyers have had a ton of sessions on how to handle this environment (and the usual answer would be “don’t say or admit anything”). But that isn’t what consumers, partners and vendors want, and transparency has become so prevailing.

    I’m concerned that if I ever look for a job I won’t be hired because of my blog (the one from JibberJobber)!

    There are so many angles on this – personal blogging about work (dooce.com), corporate bloggers that are approved, those that are anon, etc. The WWW is still the wild wild west and I think that this blog thing has thrown the legal departments for a loop…

    Funny thing is, when you do something to a blogger, they usually end up blogging on it!

  2. As we all know, it often takes the law many years to catch up with social change, and for sure the issues created by the Internet are very much on the leading edge, just ask the people whose copyrights have been stolen or otherwise misused.

    Indeed for our membership, we actually created a Career guide on the subject called Dealing with your Digital Dirt v2.0.

    I guess my own feeling is that I am not sure that this is an issue that is driven by the advent of blogging. All organizations since time began, for good or for ill, have had a culture and if the “powers that be” get too uncomfortable with someone who they feel is not conforming enough to the culture will usually find a way to make that discomfort go away.

    In a perfect world, of course, this wouldn’t happen, but as the song goes “I never promised you a rose garden.”

  3. Dave, agree it takes many years to catchup, however this issue has been bubbling away for at least 2 years. In some regard HR professionals need to take a lead on putting in place some policies and safe guards to support both employees and employers. Right now it seems most organisations have 2 approaches; 1. Ignore/Ignorance or 2. leave it to IT to solve and police. Both will end in tears. Great to see you have put together something like dealing with your digital dirt, I love the title!

    Jason, if they don’t won’t to hire you do you really want work for them? On transparency I have been re-reading the Cluetrain Manifesto and the whole topic of markets are conversations covers this. The biggest example is in the chapter by the same title where Doc Searls refers to the “Word of Web” where it “offers people the pure sound of human voice, not the elevated, empty speech of the corporate hierarchy. Further, these voices are telling one another the truth based on their real experiences, unlike the corporate messages that aim at presenting what we can generously call a best-case scenario.” The “don’t say or admit anything” approach will kill an organisation!

  4. Just reading “Naked Conversations” of Mr Scoble and I was going to talk to my colleagues about Web 2.0, blogs and how they are trying to change the landscape of business.Especially how a corporate like Telstra is having a go and encouraging conversations….

    BTW, Tom’s post is not in Now We Are Talking Blog anymore,it has disappeared.What should I do, cancel my training, or show this as an example of how companies such as Telstra are not getting “conversations” concept and are actually stuck in their old behaviour-no matter what their corporate spins may claim!

  5. Dave, Michael, Cenk, great thoughts and discussion.

    Mike, to your question, if they won’t hire me because of my blog then you are right, I probably wouldn’t want to work there. But in the early days I might have been accused of being somewhat Raw (not like Howard Stern ;)), and very pro-employee and not so pro-employer – enough to make an old-school employer shy way. Problem is, how many of those are there that don’t understand the blog world.

    I agree with Dave that this is an age-old problem… the interesting thing is that the technology (or, medium) that allowed Amazon.com and eBay.com to enter the market and have such an impact on “how things are done” and on traditional companies (read: the internet somewhat leveled or flattened the playing field) is allowing ANYONE – wives, teenagers, retired folk in the know, whistleblowers, etc. to communicate and spread the word like never before.

    Legal liabilities with what is said (which goes against the corprate mantra of “deny everything first”), CEOs with loose lips (talk to any competitive intelligence profesional – their dream is to sit next to a loose-lipped CEO on a long plane trip!) and the such make legal cringe… and they don’t know how to react to this medium that is so open.

    Our world is so transparent! I don’t see blogging going away, until it is replaced with the next greatest thing, so it is time for corporate to figure out how to harness the power, instead of shrink away.

    Dang, that was longer than I meant 😉

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