Uh-oh: Cisco Corporate Blogger Gets The Company Sued

Last Updated Mar 29, 2008 12:41 PM EDT

It was bound to happen (and may have already happened before): a Cisco Systems employee was blogging about company matters and has now been sued for some of his comments. The story was reported on our sister news site, CNET, and picked up today in Bulldog Reporter's Daily 'Dog.

A lot of interesting angles here:

* The blogger was an attorney (who of course should have known better)

* The blog was about his subject matter, patents and intellectual property, and discussed Cisco-related legal matters in this area.

* The blog was written anonymously until last month, when he revealed his identity, and it was hosted not on Cisco's official corporate blogging platform, but on Blogspot.

* Once his identity was revealed, the blogger and Cisco were promptly sued for defamation by a couple of Texas-based attorneys.

There's a lot more to the details of this story, but I will let you click around if you are interested. What you need to know are these two things:
  • This week, Cisco revised its blogging policies and posted the revisions, along with a detailed discussion, on its own official Cisco Systems blog. No more anonymous blogging about company matters or passing along online information about company matters anonymously. For what it's worth, I think Cisco did a good job being candid and prompt in its response to this mini-crisis.
  • This little episode is going to have significant repercussions in the corporate blogosphere. Now the risk-averse corporate lawyers will have a case to point to say, "See, we shouldn't be blogging. Too risky."
This is of course the wrong strategic response to this episode. Thousands of corporate blog posts have been written that haven't drawn lawsuits, but have helped to improve corporate transparency and allowed companies to connect with their customers and other audiences. If anything, this case should be seen for what it is: an outlier. Blogging policies that prohibit anonymous posting, and that strongly discourage defamatory language, should be enough to keep most potential lawsuits at bay (but if I'm wrong, don't sue me.)
  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.