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A minor tempest in the research industry teapot erupted today on Twitter and elsewhere. A SageCircle blog post entitled "Forrester tells analysts no more personal blogs with interesting implications for analyst relations" sparked a fair amount of dialog about Forrester and the rights and independence of analysts. SageCircle shared rumors that a change to Forrester blogging policies would prevent analysts from having personal blogs and would aggregate analysts’ posts into Forrester-branded role-based blogs.
I thought I’d share a few thoughts from my perspective as a newish Forresterite and a long-time blogger. First of all, the term “personal blogs” deserves a bit of definition. Forrester is not interested in limiting employees’ involvement in Social Media or their ability to blog on personal subjects. I can blog to my heart’s content about travels, cats, politics, music, movies or any other topic of a personal nature.
But there are changes coming to the ways analysts share information, ideas, and observations about the areas they cover. Forrester is still developing its policies, but it is in the process of rolling out a new blog platform and will ask analysts to share their industry-related thoughts within this new platform. So, there are elements of truth to SageCircle reports, but there’s more to the story. For example, SageCircle speculated that the aim of the policy was to “restrict analysts’ personal blogs works to reduce the possibility that the analysts will build a valuable personal brand leading to their departure.” This would be incorrect on a couple of different fronts.
First of all, Forrester analysts will all have their own blogs within the new platform, and this will continue to furnish a platform for sharing our insights and building our individual reputations. I will have my own Forrester blog, the contents of which will roll up into a blog focused on the needs and interests of Interactive Marketers.
More importantly, the hint that Forrester might want to restrict individual brand building is quite the opposite of my own experience during my first three months in the organization. If anything, Forrester demonstrates a strong and active desire to have analysts build their reputation and brand; for example, there are discussions about how analysts can best “build their franchises.” So strong is Forrester’s vision for its analysts that at times I can feel more like a self-employed specialist working within a loose collective than an employee; I like this feeling, and it one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about Forrester thus far.
Am I thrilled at the prospect of giving up Experience: The Blog, my personal/professional blog? Well no—it’s become part of my digital identity and represents thousands of hours of time and effort. But I also understand Forrester’s reasons for the changes. There are obvious benefits to the company of aggregating intellectual property on Forrester.com, including Search Engine relevance and creating a marketing platform that demonstrates the breadth and depth of analysts’ brainpower and coverage.
Furthermore, it would be silly to believe that readers will recognize and understand the distinction between Augie, the guy who shares thoughts about marketing on his personal blog, and Augie, the Forrester analyst who covers the marketing industry. There is only one Augie, and the thoughts I share on my blog are now based upon the research I do, the people I meet, and the information I am given access to thanks to my role at Forrester.
I’ll be sad to see Experience: The Blog go, but I’m also looking forward to digging into the new Forrester blog platform. There, I will continue to do what I’ve been doing for years on my personal blog: Sharing news, offering insights, connecting with others, asking for input, and—most importantly—continuing to build my reputation within my field.