Forrester Research Says No To Analysts Keeping Their Own Blogs

Previously, I wrote that companies and personal brands have a symbiotic relationship.  Smart companies nurture personal brands, those personal brands promote their employer, and situation emerges where all parties experience digital reputation benefits.  When there is mutual respect and transparency involved, everyone wins.

Employers should embrace team members interested enough to share thoughts on their industry on their own time under their own brand of media.  Sharp employees understand the importance of career security, and if you’re hiring strategists how can you blame them for creating personal marketing strategies?

And yet…Forrester – an organization that should understand the above – is muzzling team members from sharing thoughts about the industry on their own blogs.

As reported by Sage Circle:

Credible reports – since confirmed - are coming into SageCircle that Forrester management has set a new policy that analysts with personally-branded research blogs must take the blog down or redirect readers to a Forrester-branded role-based blogs.

So essentially, if you work at Forrester and you’ve vested effort to create your own industry blog in your personal time over the years, you’ve got to hand over the keys.  If Jeremiah Owyang was still at Forrester, he’d have walked out that day (at least, that’s what I would have done).  What will happen to currently employed workers with their own blogs on the industry?  Will their independent work outside of office time about the industry now belong to Forrester?  Will they attract any new industry all-stars with such a draconian policy?

There were many downsides for this discussed, including the obvious one of the negative PR that would inevitably result from this move.

However Dave McClure nails the heart of this issue in a comment over at Sage:

Clearly, no analyst with a shred of talent or ambition will ever likely choose to work for Forrester, assuming this policy is enforced. Best of luck to the remaining losers who decide it’s a good idea to tuck tail between legs and go silently into the night to work as a faceless drone for FR. why not require everyone at FR commute to work by horse & buggy while you’re at it.

Forrester was absolutely idiotic for not taking more advantage of the incredible talent of folks like Charlene Li & Jeremiah Owyang while they were on staff at Forrester, and for not realizing how HUGE a benefit blogging & the visibility created by those folks was to generating business for Forrester. It’s no surprise they chose to break away and start their own firm, which appears to be growing leaps & bounds.

I can’t think of anything more likely to hobble and kill the spark of innovation and curiosity that most research analysts have in their DNA than to require them to publish as a no-name entity.

what an incredibly stupid & self-damaging move.

Indeed.

Forrester SVP Josh Bernoff provides a public statement of their reasoning for this move:

What people need to understand is that Forrester is an intellectual property company, and the opinions of our analysts are our product. Blogging is an extension of the other work we do — doing research, writing reports, working with clients, and giving speeches, for example.

And?  As a marketer, the consulting (essentially my experience/opinions as a strategist + current situation/data) I provide clients is my product.  I also do research, create reports, work with clients and present at conferences.  I blog about all of those things on my own branded industry blog and on my employer’s blog, and in both cases it helps me do my job better.  Sometimes companies even take advantage of my ideas.  All of these are positives for me and my employer.

I fail to see why Forrester thinks this is a drawback and feels a need to stop their team members from having their own, unique voice in the industry in an unstructured setting.  What this action really says to the industry is they don’t trust their own team members.  And I ask, why hire people you can’t trust?

I also find it slightly hypocritical that Josh says  in another post we must read Seth Godin’s new book, Linchpin:

This is why there are so few wise and passionate linchpins. Seth would never be so crass as to typecast people by age, but I know there are plenty of experienced and wise but passive people (he calls them bureaucrats, you know the type) and plenty of young, passionate, and inflexible people (he calls them fundamentalist zealots.) This is why the wise, passionate person stands out.

Agreed with Josh, it’s fantastic, you should read it.  However he’s not telling a consistent story by praising this book and then supporting the Forrester management team for this move.  Forrester doesn’t want linchpins – not really.  Linchpins are individualistic, they are artists, they are leaders.

Linchpins in technology, marketing and communications-related industries blog, and demand their own brand of media to do so.  It’s just not the same as writing for an employer’s blog, you have far more freedom on your own to create a voice in a setting agnostic of who employs you.

Those with a true understanding of the advantage social communication tools provide are going to use them to create personal leverage in any industry.  If you restrict these types, you’ll lose them even quicker than if you have an irrational fear they’ll get too popular from blogging.

Forrester wants to have their cake and eat it too, (conversation and total control) and they may get it.  But I don’t see how this move helps their reputation/credibility in the industry or attract talent as Dave notes.

Would you work for a company that does this?  I wouldn’t.