You can’t say that :: When free speech costs too much.

Does your company approve of your blog?

Of all the questions I get asked, the one that readers, audience members at my presentations and even colleagues ask most frequently is a version of the above question.  There seems to be an endless curiosity about how to be a person while belonging to a career.

The underlying meaning to this, and what people really wonder…’is how much does the company own you outside of the office?’ And it is a fair question. This new digital age breeds many new conflicts- that require new guardrails, guidelines and ethics.

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Agency Girl. Not thinking about her blog. Not tweeting about her boss who hits on her. Not wondering which photos from last nights shin-dig are being posted to Facebook. Just an agency girl on her lunch break.

 

First a little history. I have been with an agency full time for many years now, and before that I was a blogger. Just a blogger. A good ‘ol American blogger. Remember those?

Meaning I was a mom. Who did some consulting here and there. Got a bunch of free stuff from brands. Attended conferences and basically just lived my life. I shared details, opinions and lots and lots of SNARK. The Glam Life has always been more positive than negative- and I have never really been the kind of site that published rants about experience, products or brands. I have run my vintage ad (AdTalk) series, and talked endlessly about my children. I talked about brands I loved and maybe mentioned a few experiences I didn’t. Like the time my luggage was lost. I would talk about nearly ANYTHING I wanted to.  I never said the f-word, and always tried to keep the focus on the joy of life and not lament over my challenges.

But things have changed.

My personal opinions are still important. I like to think I am still funny- that I still have snark pouring out of my pores. That my kids are still doing hilarious stuff worth posting every single day. That my writing still offers value and entertainment…

But things have changed.

As I am furthering my career as a member of one of the world’s largest and most powerful communications agencies, my words are being seen by my team members, my superiors and most critically clients from across the globe. Which means while I CAN say anything I want here on my personal site and social sites, it means that doing so could put my position and standing in my professional life in jeopardy.

Not talking about current clients is a given in my business, but what about talking about ANY brand? Knowing that every brand is a potential client. Understand that- EVERY BRAND on the GLOBE could be a current or future brand. And what about categories? What if I wanted to go on and on about my hate of commercial cleaning products (which is not true. I love commercial cleaning products as only an OCD cleaner can)…but what then? Where is the line? What can I say? What should I say?

If you think that disclaimer at the end of posts ‘thoughts are my own and not of my employer’ solves anything you are naive. It might keep you from getting the company SUED, but it won’t keep you from upsetting your supervisor or worse yet getting you fired. Words are a powerful tool with a permanence of steel. Oh you can delete things- but once they have been read, they can form an opinion of you  in the mind of the reader forever. Words can bring you up and take you down. 

This endless  fear has left me creatively paralyzed.

The irony is that this blog and my personal social presence is the very thing that attracted my first agency to hire me. And my social influence is still something that is leveraged by current employer- however it has left me virtually stuttering here on this site. Hence the long periods of silence.

As I see it, I have two choices.

I can rename this site to only cover work related topics “Best ways to avoid stress” kinda things or just stop here all together.

I am choosing to stop writing here all together.

Oh I may use the site to talk about this or that.  But the daily posting (which has been weekly monthly of late) is ending. My archives will never go away.  Also let me add that this is decision has not been requested or even hinted at by my employer. They have never said anything about my social interactions. My agency has been ridiculously brave- and I know I make them nervous. Because let’s face it- I am not the sorta gal to keep my mouth shut.

And if they had asked me? I would have refused. But they never did- SO I AM.

I know….I am a complicated chick.

The good news? I am not dying.

I share a ridiculous amount on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin. Please follow me everywhere.  (No really- PLEASE follow me. I am super insecure and need your love and validation. Like hourly.)

And well…… thanks.

Thank you to all of you who have read this silly space on the internet. When I started it was to solve for a life long craving to have an audience. And you have been there, clapping, laughing and always making me feel understood and loved.

Thanks internet.

I think you are awesome too.

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photo credit: Bill Rauhauser

For the last time: all thoughts are my own and not of my employer

 

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