Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Press releases
In the news business, you get a lot of press releases. It seems unending at times. Sometimes, the press releases are things you can use; other times, it's just some public relations flack trying to get some press. Sometimes, the PR flack doesn't know what he is doing and sends the press release to a strange, abandoned company email account. This separates the wheat from the chaff; and whether a PR rep truly knows about your media company or whether he is sending it out blind to flog the idea.
Anyhow, I got this one earlier today. It isn't something we would necessarily use but being a blogger, I'm intrigued by its findings and concept. Also, a quick Google of "Pierce Atwood LLP" revealed no known articles about the firm and blogging. This leads one to believe that this random press release didn't get much play.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
AS WORK-RELATED WEB BLOGS PROLIFERATE, NEW NATIONAL SURVEY FINDS FEW EMPLOYERS ARE PREPARED FOR THE IMPACT
5% of workers polled by Employment Law Alliance say they maintain a blog
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (February 7, 2006) – Web blogs are booming, but the latest survey conducted by the Employment Law Alliance (ELA) is reporting that while millions of workers – perhaps as many as 5% of the American work force -- are maintaining the online personal diaries, only about 15% of employers have specific policies addressing work-related blogging.
Some estimates put the number of workplace bloggers as high as 10 million. And with only a minority of companies regulating blogging at work, the conditions are ripe for disputes if employees use blogs to vent workday frustrations.
“The problem is not that an employer learns in a blog that an employee is dissatisfied, but that the dissatisfaction is made available to an unknown, potentially limitless audience,” says James Erwin, a labor and employment law attorney at Pierce Atwood LLP, a law firm with offices in Portsmouth and Concord, New Hampshire.
Work-related blogging was once thought to be benign, but it is now one of the hottest, and most complex and far-ranging issues in the workplace, according to Stephen J. Hirschfeld, the CEO of the ELA and a partner in the California-based labor and employment firm of Curiale, Dellaverson, Hirschfeld & Kraemer, LLP.
Blog-related issues cover a broad spectrum well beyond concerns by employers over the web-posting of company secrets. For example, can the employer regulate off-duty blogging because they believe the content injures the company’s reputation, is embarrassing to a company, or disparages a company’s products, management or customers?
“An employer does not want to intrude into an employee’s private life, but a company needs to protect its reputation for the sake of the entire workforce and the future of the business,” adds Erwin.
Erwin recommends all employers include a blogging policy in company handbooks, detailing what is and is not allowed and the consequences for violation. The practice of firing a worker for what is deemed inappropriate blogging even has its own name, doocing (named for a fired worker who maintains the www.dooce.com website).

The telephone poll of 1,000 adults, with a confidence interval of +/- 4%, was conducted over the weekend of January 22, 2006. Besides finding that 5% of American workers maintain personal blogs and that only 15% of their employers have a policy directly addressing blogging activities, it also revealed that:

• 59% of employees believe employers should be allowed to discipline or terminate workers who post confidential or proprietary information concerning the employer
• 55% think employers should be allowed to discipline or terminate employees who post damaging, embarrassing, negative information about the employer
• 23% support fellow workers being free to post criticism or satire about employers, co-workers, supervisors, customers, or clients without fear of discipline

Of the employees polled who work for a company with a blogging policy:

• 62% say the policy prohibits posting any employer-related information
• 60% say the policy discourages employees from criticizing or making negative comments against the employer
• 58% say the regulations deal with all blogging regardless of content.

Dr. Ted Reed, President of the Reed Group, LLC, a Philadelphia-based research firm and Survey Director for ELA, says the poll is indicative of a steady growth in adult blogging. A 2003 national survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that approximately 2% of American adults who used the Internet maintained a blog. “Based on our current research, we can have as many as 10 million bloggers among the American workforce.”
Pierce Atwood LLP is the ELA member law firm for Maine and New Hampshire. The law firm is the largest based in Northern New England and has more than 120 attorneys who serve regional, national and international clients from offices in Portland and Augusta, Maine. As part of the firm’s continuing growth strategy, Pierce Atwood LLP established a Portsmouth, New Hampshire office in 2001, and expanded further in 2003 when it acquired the well-respected law firm of Sanders & McDermott in Hampton. In December, 2004 the firm opened a Concord, New Hampshire office. For more information about the firm, its attorneys and services, please visit www.pierceatwood.com.
-END-
Contact: Jennifer WhittierPhone: 207-791-1244
Email: JWhittier@PierceAtwood.com
The Employment Law Alliance is the world’s largest integrated, global practice network comprised of premier, independent law firms distinguished for their practice in employment and labor law. There are member firms in every jurisdiction in the United States and over 65 countries around the world. For further information, including access to the survey charts and graphs, visit www.employmentlawalliance.com.

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