4 keys to blogging in an industry with strict regulations

Whether you have HIPAA guidelines or SEC rules curtailing what you post online, here are tips for getting your organization’s voice out there without an ominous call from the folks in Legal.

Regulations can cramp your style online.

If you’re in banking, insurance or another highly regulated industry, you might think staying away from blogging and social media platforms is the surest way to remain compliant.

Though online abstinence will guarantee no infringement of rules, it also guarantees irrelevance in the digital age.

Industry regulations and blogging can live in harmony. You might have to put in a little more effort to “play within the rules,” but that shouldn’t stop you from sharing online.

Use these helpful hints to create a social media plan that earns management approval, sets user expectations and keeps your company compliant when creating blogs and other content:

1. Define “taboo” topics. When it comes to content compliance, the natural urge is to focus on what can be said, instead of what can’t—and that’s a mistake. Clearly outline topics that cannot be discussed (such as proprietary information or issues in a regulatory gray area), and enforce the taboos right down to word choice. Write these guidelines down, and remind people of them on a regular basis to avoid missteps that could be construed as discussing, endorsing or recommending anything regarding a regulated matter.

2. Unify messaging. Your organization has expertise in some product(s) or service(s), and creating talking points around those themes will guide the social media discussion. Talking points provide consistent messaging that writers can cite without worry of noncompliance when addressing prospect and customer challenges. Plus, talking points ensure your messaging stays on track to elevating your brand and reputation.

3. Get approval. Some industries find snarky zingers and one-liners to be social media gold, but extemporaneous remarks in highly regulated fields can be dangerous. Vigilance is required. Prepare a written approval process that ensures all content is reviewed and approved in advance of publication. Loop in supervisors, managers and even top-level administrators so everyone on the ladder can weigh in on what’s appropriate for your business. Like talking points, consistent use of an approval process prevents offhand comments from damaging your brand.

4. Recycle content. Depending on the size of your organization, the approval process is often lengthy and can conflict with the quick-turnaround reality of blogs and other digital formats. Ignoring the approval process is not an option, so what’s a person to do? Re-use previously approved content in new ways. That e-book could be broken into blog posts. Those presentation slides are infographics just waiting to happen. Longer format items are an obvious choice for reworking, but shorter content (such as blogs) could be mined for tweets, Facebook posts and LinkedIn fodder.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Weidert Group blog.

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