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Forrester tells analysts no more personally-branded research blogs with interesting implications for analyst relations

icon-social-media-blue.jpgCredible 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. An email was sent to Forrester public relations on February 5, 2010 requesting a statement.

 

Update 1 – 2/5/10 12 pm PT: Added text about SageCircle’s prediction about analyst firms will try to limit analyst participation to firm-branded communities, aka private social networks. 

Update 2 – 2/5/10 1:25 pm PT:  Added Forrester’s official response below,  just above “SageCircle Technique”.

Update 3 – 2/5/10 2:55 pm PT: Clarification of what we mean by “personal blogs” in this context.

 

 (added) In this context when we say “personal blogs” we are referring to personally-branded blogs where the analyst comments on issues related to their research coverage or technology markets. Examples include The Heretech (Tom Grant), Web Strategy by Jeremiah (Jeremiah Owyang), A Software Insiders Point of View (R “Ray” Wang) and Mobile Strategy by Julie Ask (Julie Ask). Purely personal blogs that discuss family vacations, restaurant reviews, and so on are not included in this context. All the references to “personal blogs” were changed to “personally-branded research blogs” to avoid confusion.

 

SageCircle will let others debate whether this policy violates the analysts’ free speech rights, tramples on the spirit of the blogosphere, and so on. What we will look at is the “why” and does it make sense from a business point-of-view.

 

logo-forrester.gifForrester CEO George Colony is well aware of that savvy analysts can build their personal brands via their positions as Forrester analysts amplified by social media (see the post on “Altimeter Envy”). As a consequence, a Forrester policy that tries to restrict analysts’ personally-branded research blogs works to reduce the possibility that the analysts will build a valuable personal brand leading to their departure. In addition, forcing analysts to only blog on Forrester-branded blogs concentrates intellectual property onto Forrester properties increasing the value of the Forrester brand.

 

This move – if true – is very consistent with Forrester’s efforts to manage its analyst workforce to Forrester’s maximum benefit. In a letter to Mass. Gov. Patrick last year (see note 1), CEO Colony expressed his support for non-competes that favored the employer because  “… non-competes ultimately help new and established companies alike to retain the talent they’ve invested in, further nurtured and who have become star employees due to their rewarding tenure and success. …” (emphasis added).

 

What is the downside for Forrester? Likely not much unless there is a big stink in the blogosphere that causes a public relations problem. It is also not likely that analysts with personally-branded research blogs will quit over this policy, especially in this economic environment where job opportunities are still at a premium. Unless those two unlikely events happen, Forrester will have a tool to help manage its brand equity and reduce analyst departures that could result in the launch of new competitors.

 

For analyst relations (AR) teams with Forrester analysts ranked high on their lists, this new Forrester policy could be a benefit by decreasing the number of blogs that AR has to monitor. If the Forrester policy is success, it could spark similar policies at other firms again leading to fewer blogs to monitor. However, this policy and potential imitators could cause an increase in the volume of posts on firm-branded blogs, which would require careful monitoring by AR.

 

This  move, if true, would not be a surprise to SageCircle. We predicted in Forrester, Ovum, or Gartner launch a client-only social network – Looking ahead to 2010 that analyst firms would try to limit their analysts participation in non-firm communities.

 

— Forrester’s Official Statement —

Subject: Forrester response to your question/blog post

Hi Carter,

Regarding Forrester analyst blogs: We believe we can best serve our clients in their professional roles by aggregating our intellectual property in one place – at Forrester.com.  Make no mistake: Forrester is committed to social media, and the number of our analyst bloggers is increasing, not decreasing. Analysts will still have the ability to blog outside of Forrester on topics not related to their coverage areas.

Hope this helps.

Best, Karyl 

Karyl Levinson | Vice President, Corporate Communications | Forrester Research, Inc.

_________________________

 

If you are interested in news and commentary about the analyst ecosystem and analyst relations (AR) best practices, sign up for SageCircle’s free AR newsletter. You can do so by registering, which can be found in the Login box on the upper right of the home page.

 

SageCircle Technique:

  • AR should keep a finger on the social media pulse of their top analysts at larger firms, watching for significant changes of usage due to a ban on personally-branded research blogs
  • AR should keep a finger on the morale of Forrester analysts with personally-branded research blogs to see if this new policy adversely their attitude toward their employer

Bottom Line: Because there are relatively few analysts at Forrester and large firms that have personally-branded research blogs, this new policy will likely have relatively little short term impact. However, policies like this might hamper future analyst recruiting efforts limiting the type of individuals wanting a job at a firm.

 

Question: Do you think that analysts not permitted to have a personally-branded research blogs will impact the quality of independent voices in the market?

 

Note 1: From a letter to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick dated July 17, 2009 concerning Massachusetts House Bill 1794, which addressed the elimination of non-competes (posted here by State Rep. William Brownsberger).

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50 Responses to Forrester tells analysts no more personally-branded research blogs with interesting implications for analyst relations

  1. Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist says:

    To answer your question: No, I doubt this Forrester policy will impact the quality of independent voices in the market. I base this on the assumption that any analyst maintaining two blogs (one Corporate and one personal) is taking care not to publish something on their personal blog that might conflict, contradict or undermine their Forrester blog.

    But even though I don’t think it will impact quality, I don’t like the Policy. Beyond the over-simplified “Big Brother” analogy, it just doesn’t seem right. It has an undertone of being controlling, selfish or paranoid. Despite these undertones, I don’t think it will harm Forrester’s ability to attract analysts. If they did pursue an analyst with an established blog-following, one dimension of hiring the blogger would be to “buy” the right to rebrand their successful blog.

    Steve Romero, IT Governance Evangelist
    http://community.ca.com/blogs/theitgovernanceevangelist/

  2. Gordon Haff says:

    I would have to see more details before I could have a real opinion. Literally “no personal blogs” (as in you can’t have a blog in which you hold forth on your passion for chainsaw sculpture) would be quite different from a policy of “only publish about your coverage area as an analyst on Forrester blogs.”

    The former strikes me as a rather significant intrusion into an analyst’s personal activities. The latter seems quite reasonable. Speaking for myself, anything I write which falls within the admittedly somewhat fuzzy boundaries of my professional analyst work, only gets published to Illuminata and/or a couple of external blogs that the company has a specific contractual relationship with. I do have a personal blog but that only gets posts that aren’t appropriate for “official” venues. Some topics do touch on technology but they’re reviews of consumer products and the like that wouldn’t be appropriate as an Illuminata publication.

  3. JennTof says:

    Good God. Is this another case of telling folks not to be stupid no matter where they are or who they think is watching? IBM set out to tackle this delicate balance between personal and professional when they crafted their social computing guidelines in 2005 (http://www.ibm.com/blogs/zz/en/guidelines.html) but now things are evolving and we are finding it difficult to look in the mirror and determine who is looking back. It’s all about personal branding because, from my experience, we are all people. Social media lets us get personal and let’s us be whole people and not merely employees or program managers or analysts. But let us not be stupid, either, because indeed we are employees too. Gordon, you are spot on. Chainsaw sculpting is much more fascinating and far less dangerous than professional analyst work.

  4. I don’t see any practical way of setting the boundary for such a policy. There’s already little distinction between personal blogs, Twitter microblogs, comments on blogs, recommendation sites, and status updates on social nets like FB, LI, etc. Even personally curated content farms – Flick’r, Posterous, etc – carry an implicit personal editorial slant and therefore could be targeted by such a policy.

    What did you hear in terms of what this actually applies to?

  5. Andrea Hill says:

    What are the implications for those who already have blogs? Is their employer going to force them to shut them down?

  6. ed lee says:

    to follow on from @andrea’s comment – what happens when forrester actively pursues a potential new analyst who has his/her own blog? it seems like a strange dichotomy to restrict one of the things which you may actively look for in a potential employee.

  7. Merv Adrian says:

    Anyone who watched Ray Wang’s blog in his Forrester days saw the right way to make it work for both parties. Ray drove traffic *to* Forrester. He put provocative content out there, and linked it back to the corporate site for more depth and detail. For a company that purports to understand social media – and advise people about it at very high cost – to fail to leverage the visibility it offers is astonishing. Forrester ought to be leading the way to effective practice. Closing themselves off is hardly what they are suggesting their clients should do.

  8. Gordon Haff says:

    Barbara,

    I mildly disagree. It’s certainly true that it’s neither desirable nor possible to keep the VOICE OF THE ANALYST :-) confined to specific official channels. Leakiness is inevitable and even good. However, to the degree that something is published research, albeit shorter and less formal in the vein of blogs, it doesn’t seem *that* difficult to keep that under an employer brand and I understand why an employer would want to do so.

  9. Chris Tolles says:

    If you can’t keep your employees through comp and equity, you whine to the state to enable indentured servitude?

    Clear why Boston is no longer a serious place for technology and why we totally kicked their ass in Silicon Valley.

    It’s funny too, I thought well of Forrester based on their ex employees, and figured that they had a good shop for understanding. If you are a food place for good people to be from, people will want to work there.

    Good thing they have dispelled that notion for me. Whiner.

  10. carterlusher says:

    Some representative tweets –

    @theaaronist: “… will build a valuable personal brand leading to their departure” don’t most businesses have a similar prob now?

    @Merredith: Wow, Forrester tells analysts no more personal blogs (it’s alleged). A verrry fine line I think.

    @Jeff_Martin: OMG Forrester to restrict employee personal blogs so they cant build personal credibility and leave the company. #FAIL

    @williammcknight: What about twitter?

    @jolenebonina: quite the ban IMHO.

    @merv: Building the walls higher at Forrester? No more “personal” blogs? SageCircle thinks so.

    @PatDDixon: Geez, I hope this isn’t true

    @rshevlin: Forrester tells analysts “no more personal blogs” Think I won’t be sending this link to my boss.

    @bmichelson: agree is recruiting problem

    @LoudyOutLoud: Wow! What’s your take on this, Carter?

    @benwood: Wonder if this applies to Twitter too

    @vjthree: Agreed

    @JBrodkin: A real shame if this is true

  11. Julie Hunt says:

    Agree with Merv Adrian re: Ray Wang. As for Jeremiah Owyang – he and his Web Strategy blog were already a “star brand” before Forrester came calling. Owyang came on board at Forrester with a very distinct and valuable professional IP of his own. Wang and Owyang brought a lot more attention to the Forrester practice, not the other way around, especially with their edgier and timelier posts.

  12. Gordon

    I’m saying, policies like this need to address social media in a holistic manner, rather than by focusing on just 1 particular soc media platform. If a company has an issue with long-form blogs, it’s likely to have the same issues with micro-blogs and status updates and curated content and so on.

    Today, there are many instances where one analyst’s Twitter stream is the equivalent of another analyst’s long-form blog.

    When I launched the Tekrati analyst blogs directory in 2005, lots of people thought analyst-written blogs were a joke. Here we are discussing the importance of blogs to analyst firm IP.

    Any bets on when we’ll have this same discussion about analyst Twitter streams and status updates?

  13. Gordon Haff says:

    Barbara,

    That’s fair. My blog posts tend to be pretty long and my tweets only moderately frequent so I tend to think of them as pretty distinct. But you’re absolutely right that to the degree tweets are very frequent and blog posts are a quick comment on someone else’s post, the boundaries blur.

  14. Gerry Van Zandt says:

    This is a tempest in a teapot, folks. Forrester’s policy is reasonable, lawful, and well within common rights as an employer to require of analysts. I’d have a HUGE issue with it if they were trying to control analysts’ non-tech-related (personal interest) social media activities, blogs, etc. but from Karyl’s response, it doesn’t seem they are doing this.

    The reason I say this policy seems reasonable is because it is well-established by more than a few companies in the industry that if you do things “outside” of work that are work-related or create IP that is related to the job, then it’s in effect the company’s property. I know that Intel and HP have these policies, and you agree to them when you commence employment.

    One good and fabled story of this is the Apple I computer. Steve Wozniak, an HP engineer, invented the Apple I computer as an “extracurricular” activity, although one related to his job in technology, and using some HP resources in the creation of it. He was required by HP’s rules to bring it to the company and give HP first rights of refusal to keep it and the IP, which HP declined to do. In fact, Woz has a letter to this effect from his bosses at the time. HP was simply not interested in the personal computer at the time.

    So he and Steve Jobs were then free to start Apple Computer, which they did.

    The fact remains that even in the mid-1970s, companies like HP had policies by where IP/product developed by employees was required to be provided to the company for evaluation, and acceptance or rejection.

    In today’s world, blogs/Twitter and research THAT PERTAINS TO THE EMPLOYEE’S JOB can in many circles be considered (technically and legally) “company property”.

    Now, if HP wanted to assume some level of control over my Mercedes-Benz related web sites, mailing lists and such (where no HP or tech business is discussed) I would take extreme umbrage….

    Tempest in a teapot.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  15. Gerry Van Zandt says:

    By the way, I’ve heard from knowledgeable sources that this policy by Forrester is not new, and was really instituted around the middle of 2009.

  16. Dana Baxter says:

    That seems like a radical move. I can’t see how it helps Forrester but it sure seems like it will stifle the discussion in the soclai media space. I regulalry read Bruce Tempkin’s blog “Customer Experience Matters” and it’s one of the best blogs I’ve run across. He seems to regularly refer back to Forrester. I didn’t even know that Forrester had research in customer experience until I read his blog. I know I’m not a client of Forrester, so they aren’t making money from me, but I’ve been trying to make the case based on his work. But if they’re shutting down his blog, then I don’t really want to read what Forrester has to say.

  17. Jeremy Head says:

    I don’t think it’s simple as people like Garry suggest. Yes, absolutely the employer owns the IP if the employee is a full time employee… even if work is done outside hours. BUT this is about publication not ownership. The distinction between what is work and what isn’t is also so grey these days. I run a personal blog and I often discuss issues that relate to my job… I’m very careful not to discuss detail and not to mention client names, but my personal blog space allows me to test the waters with new ideas, discuss stuff that wouldn’t be wholly appropriate on a company blog space, develop my own thinking and receive really insightful input from the community of people who read me. I make clear my relationship with the company that employs me and link back where it makes sense to do so. This should be seen as an opportunity for symbiosis. I think Forrester has got it wrong. To me this is completely contrary to the social/personal nature of the web.

  18. Diana Leskela says:

    Merv Adrian has it right – this is a short sighted move by Forrester. Analyst bloggers drive interest in and awareness of Forrester’s work. Public blogs and tweets have a huge virality due to ease of linking/re-tweeting that increases the reach of, and ultimately builds, the Forrester brand beyond existing customers. Despite their self-centered view, most people, and many of their own customers, are not hanging out at/checking their site(s) as often as they are scanning, e.g. twitter. That’s why they issue press releases to draw traffic in; analyst blogs are the new press releases.

    Especially if Forrester, Gartner, et al. move toward “closed” social networks for customers, they need to consider how new customers will find out about their research services. Non-paying customers can only be converted to paying customers if they believe Forrester, etc. provide relevant, quality research from a top team. By giving samples of their approach, knowledge areas and currency with cutting edge issues, Wang’s and OwYang’s blogs each demonstrated the quality and relevence that a customer could expect from Forrester’s products, reinforcing the value of buying in. If everything goes closed ecosystem, the Analysis firms lose this lead generation opportunity. Rather than restrict, they should have good practice guidelines on routing traffic – and interest- back to Forrester. A whole different approach would be to incentivize the analysts for bringing them this attention!

  19. Max Kalehoff says:

    Is there any doubt that this long-standing company view influenced the departure of numerous (former) independent-minded, entrepreneurial employees? I empathize with protecting intellectual content and policing conflicts of interest — especially in this age where syndicated research value is being challenged by open networks and aggregators. That must be balanced with the cultivation of the entrepreneurial spirit, which, for any reasonably successful firm, is what got that firm there in the first place. (Ironically, I just posted my thoughts on the subject and was referred by a reader to this post. http://bit.ly/dsKEhF)

  20. Dave McClure says:

    “What is the downside for Forrester? Likely not much unless there is a big stink in the blogosphere…”

    Seriously, you think that’s the only downside? How incredibly short-sighted. This is the corporate research equivalent of suicide.

    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.

  21. Darnell Purcher says:

    A friend of mine sent me a link to this information. Is Forrester going crazy?!? Clamping down on social media and pushing for more stringent non-competes. It doesn’t sound like the elements to a strong recruiting strategy. I have to believe that this will have a long-term impact on the quality of Forrester’s analysts. I’ve been a fan of Jeremiah’s blog for a while, long before he went to (and left) Forrester. I’ve recently started to follow Bruce Temkin’s blog on customer experience. It’s really insightful. I hope he follows Jeremiah if they interrupt his blogging.

  22. Yann Ropars says:

    When Jeremiah Owyang left Forrester, I was wondering how come @forrester had actually left this to happen. His very powerful blog was his own, not Forrester’s content. The digital footprint of Jeremiah grew exponentially during his time at Forrester and his fantastic content would have been better seating on the Forrester site.
    The larger question is that company should be mindful about how much social media power they give to their employees. Personal and Corporate digital footprints need to feed of each other skillfully.

    My blog about this back in August of 09′ when Jeremiah left Forrester http://extanz.com/2009/08/21/jeremiah-owyang-vs-forrester-research-or-the-reality-of-digital-footprint-divorces

  23. Brian James says:

    There’s probably not too much down side for Forrester, though I think Gary over-simplifies the legal question.Companies have the right to protect intellectual property, but it is questionable whether an HP employee’s _every thought_ about computing can be considered to belong to HP.I don’t think that’s the real issue for Forrester, though. Most people are able to distinguish between their corporate and personal interests and identities; when they fail to maintain this distinction, companies have avenues of redress.
    This is really about control. Making sure corporate talent stays put, and decreasing the number of independent voices which creates a bigger footprint for “official” communiques. I suspect this will become increasingly common, but it is unfortunate. The reason people read independent blogs is because they are from informed voices who maintain some degree of independence. I’m more likely to trust Ray Wang’s informed opinion than that of a Forrester “representative.” This move means Forrester will lose the cache gained from the celebrity of a pure-breed blogger, but they’d rather have mutt on a leash.

  24. Phil Wolff says:

    While legal under employment and contract law, this is a bonehead move. I’m with McClure.

    The voice of the individual author is more important than their institutional affiliation. It’s fine that an analyst has a Forrester log-in and maybe even a cubicle. That doesn’t tell me anything about the quality of their work, their biases, their experience, their world view. When you buy intelligence you pay for the source as much as the work product. That personal brand started long before they arrived at Forrester. Asserting the Forrester brand at the expense of personal brand is self-defeating (but completely in character).

    Four more points.

    First, blogging, vlogging, and tweeting are personal acts. You write in your own voice, you post at your own pace. You tailor how your page or site looks to reflect how you would like readers to feel and think about you. That intimate quality disappears when you force it into a corporate straightjacket. You won’t get the same “content” and your clients will be able to tell in seconds.

    Second, work and life are blurred. An author’s blog isn’t just one or the other. It’s both. And they inform and color each other. The very best works draw from the whole person, and that’s what makes the insights engaging, relatable, memorable, repeatable. No analyst will ever post on an institutional blog what their four-year-old thought of a new technology. Or the formative insights that happened over drinks last night.

    Third, these are conversational media. You’re not speaking in a “role”. You’re not talking on behalf of your entire institution. You’re you. So people talk with you. They leave comments. They cross-post and retweet and favorite. They feel safe to do so because this is not some company’s site; this is Bob’s blog or Paula’s posterous. You know with whom you are talking. There’s trust. No trust, no relationship.

    Last, acknowledge that people exist before you hire them, after they leave you and even while they are working for you. They have fans and followers and friends independent of their employer (think Robert Scoble, for example). Good employers help employees cultivate and amplify their personal brands. All their employees, not just the rock stars like Charlene and Jeremiah, but the grunts who churn out great detailed reports on all those niche markets and fringe technologies, the admins who make your business work, the account reps who nurture client relationships. If you’re not adding to their personal career capital, you’re sapping their strength on the open labor market. You’re becoming the last job they can ever have. You’re imposing a tax so steep that you’ll have to triple compensation to make someone take the hit of working for you. [Wait, I've heard how much Forrester pays; you'd have to quintuple salaries.]

    So congratulations, Forrester, on your new barrier to employment, your new reason for employees to leave, and advancing the irrelevance of your brand.

  25. Deborah Hallings says:

    A friend of mine is an analyst at Forrester and she sees this as a slap to the analysts. Rather than building a company that embraces social media participation and the brand of its analysts, Forrester is clamping down on its employees. There’s no evidence that analysts social media efforts (on their own time) have done anything except build and extend the Forrester brand (and revenue stream). Forrester needs to understand that it benefits immensely from the strong personal brands of its analysts. An enlightened company would embrace those brands and create an environment where employees want to stay; rather than try to set rules that turn key employees into indentured slaves. Hopefully Forrester will eventually see the light.

  26. Agree with Gerry Van Zandt – tempest in a teapot. Business decision by Forrester – time will tell if it was the right one. I suspect it was.

    It does draw a distinction between established ‘big firms’ (which Forrester certainly is) and smaller ‘challengers’. The Forrester brand is arguably bigger than any of their individual analysts, so this is a prudent move – for them. But it would be a very bad idea for a smaller, less-established firm (of which there are, of course, many…).

    As long as Forrester doesn’t get overly-restrictive – as their statement indicates they won’t – the firm will be just fine.

  27. David Dines says:

    I believe that it is the right move for Forrester and for the right reasons. A company has the right to protect its brand and put reasonable restrictions on its employees. Realistically, it will not make a huge difference either way: analysts have been branding themselves (and going independent) long before blogs and twitter existed. Personal branding depends on ideas not just the channel, so talented analysts like Charlene or Jeremiah would probably have gone independent anyway, though it may have taken a little longer to build their personal brand without their own blog.

  28. Anthony Prattico says:

    When will people learn that there is no such thing as “free speech” when companies or individuals are concerned? Companies can censor individuals, and individuals may censor other individuals. The ONLY right to free speech is protection from Congress passing laws to prohibit free speech. Interestingly, the Constitution specifically mentions Congress but not the Executive or Judicial branches.

    Therefore, if Forrester believes it creates a conflict of interest or some other sort of impropriety, then they have every right to request blogs with deals with the same subject as Forrester’s business be either shut down or made into an “official” Forrester blog.

  29. James Ball says:

    Forrester, I love what you do, but love your analysts more.

  30. Unbelievably boneheaded and self-destructive move. Forrester needs its best analysts so much more than Forrester’s best analysts need Forrester…

    –Hary

  31. Jason Halligen says:

    I always thought Forrester was an IT firm until I found Bruce Temkin’s blog on customer experience. It’s about the best source for thoughtful information on customer experience. The reason I bring this up is that I would have never been aware that Forrester had anything I cared about had it not been for that blog. I’ve read that he’s also been Forrester’s highest read analyst for several years running. Having him spend his personal time on this blog seems like it’s been a good deal for Forrester. Hopefully we won’t lose his blog.

  32. Terry Heaton says:

    Our consulting firm advises clients to do just the opposite, for companies ARE their employees, and the stronger their brands, the stronger they are. “What if somebody leaves and takes their brand with them” is a specious argument in the real time world, for, as has been mentioned earlier, the upcoming players in any field will have their own brands anyway. What if somebody leaves? Duh! Hire somebody else! Another important factor here is that people follow people, not institutions, and this is especially true in the real time, social media world. The sacred “brand” follows different rules, and while we may think it’s in our best interests to maintain the status quo, the reality is that the quo is rapidly leaving. We want our clients to employ people with strong brands, because we believe it’s the clearest path to permanent relevancy tomorrow.

  33. Lisa Rowan says:

    This isn’t just about branding — corporate, personal, or otherwise. I think there’s also the issue of liability. When an analyst blogger posts on a personal site, is he or she representing only his/her own opinions or are they still viewed as the opinions of the analyst firm? Does the analyst point to their employer’s site and to published work there? I recall a year or so ago that there was a bit of a kerfuffle over something that one of the analysts posted to their personal site to which a vendor client of the analyst firm objected. It may not have ever seen the light of day had the layer of analyst firm editorial been in place.

    I’m not saying that we need policing as the majority of people know where to draw the line but it does complicate liability and for that reason I see Forrester’s point.

  34. John Blandings says:

    Lisa has an interesting point. If this is about editorial control, however, then Forrester has truly missed the boat on the social Web. How can they think about controlling what people say. Will every tweet have to go through a Forrester editorial department? Are they going to make analysts get their legal department to approve every quote they give to the press? It sounds like there’s no more need for analysts, since there will only be one voice coming from Forrester. Sounds a lot like censorship. I guess Forrester clients have to decide whether they want to hear what George Colony wants analysts to say versus hearing what the analysts have to say. I’m guessing that they are much more interested in the latter.

  35. David Dalka says:

    It’s time that people start recruiting and seeking consulting based on influence (defined as do I value talking to this person for 30 minutes in terms of creating bottom line impact in my business) and ability to understand how the web is changing business and our society – instead of twitter follower counts (easily gamed) and increasingly meaningless job titles and company brands. In the end quality matters more than quantity and relevancy and search matter more to the future profits of corporate america than “being a primary cheerleader of the social media fanclub”

    Personally I hope Forrester doesn’t change this and people start to seek out relevant individual thought leaders and reject group think based on $$$$.

  36. Augie Ray says:

    As a Forrester analyst, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts about this situation. Here is a link to my post on the Forrster blog:

    http://blogs.forrester.com/marketing/2010/02/my-thoughts-on-forrester-analysts-and-blogging.html

  37. Josh Bernoff says:

    Thanks for all the comments here. As a Forrester analyst and the author of Groundswell, I think Forrester has the right policy. Companies that are in the content business ought to allow their content creators to blog . . . but if you create content for such a company, you should expect that content to appear on their site.

    I’ve explained in detail here:

    http://blogs.forrester.com/groundswell/2010/02/why-our-analysts-blog-at-forrestercom.html

    Forrester creates a platform where analysts can become very prominent and influential. It worked for me — my personal brand is pretty healthy, because of the work I did for and with them. It’s a good arrangement for me, as it is for the other analysts who benefit from the platform the company has created. To be clear, as an analyst, you can blog all you want about your coverage at blogs.forrester.com. Go take a look.

  38. David Frankle says:

    Good to see a few analysts circling the wagon at Forrester. Maybe they get some extra credit points, but it is still the wrong move.

  39. George Wells says:

    I think this is a logical move considering how people like Jeremiah used their positions at Forrester to boost their personal brands and market values. There’s the unwritten (sometimes written) rule that all results from work belong to the employer. If people want to run personal blogs unrelated to their work, they can still do it. Or they could blog about their work anonymously or under another name, not leveraging their position for building their own market value and brand.

    Building a personal brand based on a job position kind of sucks. It’s not fair play, but lots of people still do it, unfortunately. I’d welcome it if all companies had such a policy like Forrester. G.W.

  40. Aaron Gray says:

    All the legal arguments about who the analysts’ work belongs to aside, this will have the practical impact of making it very difficult for Forrester attract any bright, new talent. If you make it difficult for smart people to advance professionally beyond what employment with you can offer, smart people won’t come work for you.

    This is a short-sighted move that is an early sign of the waning importance of analysts.

    AG

  41. Gerry Van Zandt says:

    Still think this is a tempest in a teapot! A lot of negative & knee-jerk reactions here. I just don’t see a policy like this as significantly/negatively impacting Forrester’s ability to recruit top-notch talent.

    I’d like to think that analysts would consider the overall opportunity to do cutting-edge research and work with top-notch colleagues and clients, rather than basing their decisions on what effectively is a requirement as to whose server an analyst’s blog is hosted on. Note per Josh’s post/comment above that individual analysts currently do and will have the ability to have “their own” blogs. For analysts who want to blog, this policy seems totally accomodating to me, and will still allow individual analysts to “build their brand” with their own blog.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  42. Phil Wolff says:

    Gerry, Forrester’s policy castrates it’s talent.

    Your employer has the power to edit, modify, re-attribute, delete, distort and do anything they want with your words/pictures/videos on their site. They can choose to ruin your reputation or bury your online presence as if you were never at the firm. If your employer closes shop or is dissolved following a merger, your work can vanish along with the reputation you’d earned.

    This not about Forrester concentrating its brand. It’s about your power over your fate. It’s you controlling how you are perceived in the marketplace of ideas, over the longevity of your online presence, of your ability to promptly respond to comments, to speak in your own voice, the authority to revise and correct posts.

    Our worldwide knowledge work labor market requires a well run, living, professional online presence. Like a gap in your CV, Forrester’s policy shuts down your professional onlife.

  43. Cliff Condon says:

    Here’s more insight into Forrester’s upcoming blog changes to further clarify what you’ve heard:

    http://blogs.forrester.com/marketing/2010/02/forrester-wants-more-analysts-using-social-tools.html

  44. Formerly Forrester says:

    As a former Forresterite myself, I look at this situation a bit more broadly then just personal versus corporate blogs. To me this isn’t an isolated incident but rather a trend of behaviour from the management. Their arguments for making this (and other similar decisions) is cogent and in line with the company’s greater interest.

    Where I, and probably a lot of other former and current employees, would take issue is that Forrester has always sold itself as a people focused company that does things differently. This and many other decision seems to fly in the face of that image. To understand the turmoil within Forrester around this issue, and many others three things need to be taken into account:

    1) The goal to beat Gartner. Anybody who has worked at Forrester knows the huge emphasis that execs place on beating Gartner. Strangely, over time the obsession to beat Gartner has created a drive to become more like Gartner (or at least how Gartner is characterized within Forrester). Forrester always prided itself for being an entrepreneurial; think outside the box type of company – Gartner the opposite, corporate and impersonal. The ongoing transformation seeks to turn Forrester into an efficient business machine. More processes, more message control, more discipline, and more focus on the bottom line. Less personal innovation, less interest in retaining employees long term, and less originality. The new blogging policy reflects this transformation and is a further step towards turning employees into replaceable cogs in a highly optimized revenue-driving machine. Don’t confuse this machine with one designed to make satisfied customers or happy employees.

    2) The process dogma. At some point, the management at Forrester decided that processes were a great thing. Processes apparently always led to quantifiable and consistent results, whether you were building a car, designing a computer program, writing a report, or even thinking of an idea! Recognizing the massive potential of processes, the management set about trying to create a process for every conceivable business function. Let there be no doubt that Forrester execs passed many a sleepless night over how to build a process around blogging – a creative, spontaneous, and personal activity that did not lend itself well to the confines of a process. Luckily, someone came up with the original idea to just make blogs more like existing Forrester reports (i.e. hosted on the Forrester website, sent through Forrester editing and publishing, ability to modify or delete when necessary, etc.). Forrester’s new blogging policy needs to be viewed in the light of a company that truly believes that the best way to run a business is through the strict confines of a myriad of processes and rules.

    3) Entrenched management with tired ideas. Analysts and sales people seem to have relatively short careers of between 3-4 years at Forrester, contrasted with the executive team who seem to have become some form of corporate aristocracy appointed to positions for life. The only major changes were when a number of execs were forced to resign over an options scandal back in 2006! Regardless, over the years these execs have had some good ideas evidenced by the Forrester’s success, but as time has gone on they seem to have run out of ideas. That’s problematic for them since the company is intent on constant transformation. The result? Unoriginal and risk averse thinking, leading to poorly thought out processes/policies, tons of needless bureaucracy and infighting, and perhaps most sadly of all a continued lack of any type of inspiring corporate strategy beyond profit generation.

    So what does this all add up to? The result is very far from a black or white situation, but a quick look can easily determine two camps of winners and losers:

    Winners: Forrester Inc. shareholders, executive management team

    Losers: Forrester analysts

    The most important question of which camp customers will fall remains up in the air. Forrester remains a great brand, full of smart and dynamic employees. The danger of course is that decisions like this and adherence to the prevailing process dogma will drive away more of the best and brightest (for example Li, Wang, Owyang, and many, many others), which will ultimately erode the company’s strength. Unfortunately, up until the stock ticker starts to go down, no one in the Forrester management team will ever admit or acknowledge any such problem – something that certainly does not bode well for a customer.

  45. ex-Analyst says:

    I think that Formerly Forrester is absolutely correct. This decision can not be looked at in isolation. I used to be an analyst at Forrester and found their leadership to be quite childish. They haven’t learned that the best way to retain people is to treat them well and create an enviornment that helps them succeed and recognize their own personal potential. Lacking that understanding, they try and keep analysts by finding ways to lock them in and make their brands less portable. People always leave their companies, and analysts aren’t different. If an analyst succeeeds after leaving Forrester, then that should be embraced and celebrated — not viewed as a betrayal. It makes more people want to become analysts and it also retain goodwill with the ex-analysts who might become clients in the future. But if the regime continues to hold on to its old-school management approach of trying to lock-in analysts, then the analyst quality will decline and Forrester clients will suffer.

    There’s no surprise that the only comments coming from inside of Forrester are supporting this move. Who would dare speak-out against this overly-controlling management team?!?

  46. rizky says:

    Splendid idea i guess but hope the contributing analyst get some form of incentives, which can be KPI etc.

    Btw, (i) do analyst permitted to inform the audience of the post they made or (ii) even copied the post (w disclaimer that its taken fr official blog) on their current blog?

    Cheers,
    Rizky Priyono

  47. Merv Adrian says:

    My early comment was brief, and this one will be too. Anyone who believes Forrester doesn’t have the right to do what they’re doing is not thinking clearly. If course they do. Any analyst who doesn’t like it knows where the door is.

    My point was, and still is, that attractive blogs from Forrester analysts draw eyeballs, and the company can leverage, and should therefore encourage, ways to use them. Boundaries are entirely appropriate, and deep content people pay for ought to be exclusive for them.That’s a no-brainer. But blogs are the new advertising for anyone in the IP business. Why turn down the opportunity?

  48. Pingback: Forrester to Analysts that Have Their Own Blogs: Umm, No | CloudAve

  49. Swan says:

    I think a nice compromise would be to strongly co-brand the forrester blog material. If the author is just an after thought that is not going to feed their ego very nicely. Forrester should want their analysts to have big names because as long as the Forrester brand is attached, it brings more prestige to them.

  50. Forrester Client says:

    The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Does anyone know of a Forrester-branded blog worth reading? Me neither.

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