Social Media Meets Lay-Offs; Forrester Response
On March 19, about 40 employees - roughly 18 percent of the workforce - were terminated as part of the company's second round of cuts in 2009. But what was unusual about Mzinga's situation was how widely it echoed throughout the universe of bloggers and Twitter users, since so many of the company's employees and customers - and the analysts who track its ups and downs - are part of the online community that shares morsels of information and "status updates" on a moment-by-moment basis. This was a layoff for our Twittery new times.
I wanted to share here some responses that I received from Forrester Research CEO Charles Rutstein; the first hint that something was going on at Mzinga appeared here, on Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang's blog, igniting a bit of a controversy. (Owyang had suggested that Mzinga clients and prospects put off any new deals with the company, without really explaining why.)
Here's what Rutstein sent, via e-mail:
Q: Was Jeremiah acting as a blogger or an analyst when he wrote about Mzinga?
A: Jeremiah is both an independent blogger and a Forrester analyst. In his blog posts about Mzinga, he erred by speculating and not applying the same standards of quality as would be required in a Forrester research report. He has publicly apologized to his readers for this oversight. Importantly, however, Jeremiah was acting as an advocate for Forrester’s clients – making them aware of information they might need to make a critical purchasing decision. And, it’s worth noting that Jeremiah’s speculation, while insufficiently researched up-front, has proven to be grounded in fact.
Have we been in touch with Mzinga about what happened? Absolutely.
All of us – Forrester included – are still learning how to live in the world of social media. While our experts are among the foremost in the world on these topics, we continue to learn every day.
Q: Has the blogging incident resulted in any modifications to existing policies or new policies about engaging with social media for Forrester employees?
A: Forrester has blogging guidelines which have been in place for some time and which have been shared with all Forrester employees. Forrester has 18 blogs which cater to the professional roles of its clients . Separately, a number of Forrester analysts maintain personal blogs which is their prerogative. We do not control what analysts write about in their personal blogs although we ask them to clearly state that their content is their own and may not necessarily reflect Forrester’s views. Naturally we ask them to respect Forrester intellectual property based on our blogging guidelines. As the web 2.0 world continues to evolve, we will continue to encourage Forrester analysts to participate thoughtfully in the community while respecting Forrester’s content and social media guidelines.