September 2010 - I knew that something had changed because Yvonne
Buchanan's website had disappeared - which is why I linked to the archived
version instead of the spammy cyber squatter replacement.|
Yvonne Buchanan has more recently published an ebook - The Marketing Plan for Law Firms: Fast Track to Success.
Article by Yvonne Buchanan The PR Academy
|See also:-||Press Release FAQs|
High-Tech Marketing Agencies
What's a Good Click Rate for a Banner Ad?
Increasing Your Brand's Visibility by Search-engine Marketing
|An electronics communications
policy acts as a guideline for employees in the use of a company's electronics
communications system. As such it provides an important safeguard for companies
against liability due to misuse and abuse of electronic communications resources
by its employees. A good electronic communications policy should also provide
guidelines for dealing with employees who abuse the policy.
The first step to creating an electronic communications policy is forming a committee to provide the content. Drafting this policy will definitely not be a one-person job. Ideally, the following departments should be represented in an electronic communications policy committee: human resources, information technologies, communications, and management. An external committee member who will be involved later is the company's legal advisor. The electronic communications committee may choose to begin with a sample draft, or poll the company's departments for input before creating a first draft.
When the document begins to take shape, it is time to pass it by company attorneys for their review. Significant rewrites are fated at this point. Attorneys know what can wrong, and will want to cover every contingency. It will be up to company's electronic communications committee to decide which edits to keep (probably most of them), and how to translate legalese into "humanese" without changing the meaning. Legal advisors may suggest not only content changes but format suggestions as well. One company's attorney asked that an FAQ section be removed and the content distributed throughout the policy. Reason: by calling out certain items in an FAQ, and not others, it gave unintended weight to certain portions of the policy, thereby minimizing the import of the remaining areas.
Once a committee is in place, its members may choose to look at other organizations' electronic communications policies. While online cookie-cutter companies charge $50-$500 for sample employee manuals, and many of them don't even include electronic communications policies, several excellent examples of policies are available in the government, education and nonprofit sectors. The City of Vancouver, Wash., and the University of California (Davis) have web sites that demonstrate the range of electronic communications policy samples available (from the informal to the complex). Because sample policies are written for specific organizations, some sections will not apply to every company's needs, and they should only be used for format and content suggestions.
Components of an Electronic Communications Policy
Key components of an electronic communications policy include:
Introduction. In the introduction, the company states the need for the policy. The introduction for a software company read:
|This brief introduction clearly
demonstrates the need for the policy both from the company's and the employee's
viewpoint. In the last two sentences (suggested by the company's attorneys) it
also states the potential outcome of not following the policy (termination), and
avoids any future claims of ignorance: any employee who uses the electronic
communications resources is assumed to know the rules applying to such use.
Definition of Terms. After the introduction, it may be helpful to provide a definition of terms that will be used within the electronic communications policy. This helps avoid any misunderstandings as the employee reads the rest of the document. Terms that may require definition include: electronic communications; electronic communications records, electronic communications resources, electronic communications system, emergency circumstances, transmit, use, user. Although this section generally comes early, out of necessity, it will most likely be written last, once the remainder of the policy is written and terms requiring clarification are made obvious.
Scope. Early in the policy, a statement should be included defining which electronic communications resources, users, uses and records the policy applies to and which it specifically does not apply to. This provides the context from which the electronic communication policy governs.
Guidelines. The guidelines are the heart of the electronic communications policy. Here is where the policy delineates what constitutes acceptable use, misuse and abuse of the company's electronic communications resources, and repercussions for those who do not comply. Points to be made may include:
Federal Laws and Statutes
Before finalizing an electronic communications policy, it would be wise to review the federal laws and statutes that may apply. A listed of these may be included within the policy as an appendix. This will help reinforce the message that a core purpose of the company's policy is to comply with the laws of the land. Applicable federal laws and statutes include:
Every company has its own internal processes and procedures, systems and safeguards. The electronic communications policy should address the specific needs and concerns of the company it serves. One way to do this is to include the specific names of anti-virus programs, departments, networks, and protocols that the employee will use when using the company's electronic communications resources. This will not only help personalize the electronic communications policy, it will also make the policy easier for company employees to understand and follow.
Another way to personalize the electronic communications policy is to write it so that the tone of the policy reflects the company's corporate culture. But here lies danger: using "you" instead of "the employee" is generally safe enough, but a tone that is too friendly may imply a lax attitude toward the policy. Where possible, it is best to avoid legalese and still maintain a firm, no-nonsense tone. Where it's not possible, the legalese may rule. Form follows function, and the function of an employee communications policy is to protect the company and its employees. ...The PR Academy
Ad Wizards' "Employee Policies on Disk" - Table of contents for an employee policy manual outlining a section on employee communications. This is a canned employee manual offered for sale, therefore only an outline portion is available.
City of Vancouver, Washington (publication date unknown) Electronic communications policy, a Q&A format for city employees.
Personnel Policy Service, Inc., "Instant HR Policies" (publication date unknown) A listing of table of content items available in a canned employee policy manual. Does not include the employee communications policy.
University of California, Davis (2000) Electronic communications policy, a section of the U of C's employee handbook.
Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis (2000) Employee handbook for Washington University School of Medicine. Related site is found under "Employee Handbook" then "Standards of Conduct and Corrective Action"
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