As REI dives more deeply into the digital media space, you're much more likely to "meet" an employee there. In order to be clear about what REI expects of employees who participate in online forums, we've posted these guidelines. Here's the nub: Unless they're clearly authorized to send a "company" message, employees are speaking personally and not on behalf of REI.
REI appreciates that there are many avenues on the Internet through which our employees share information, personal ideas and opinions and learn from others. This Policy for Participation in Online Forums ("Policy") applies to all employees who use blogs, microblogs (such as Twitter), social networks or communities [such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and REI's Online Community ("the REI Community")], wikis, personal websites, photo and video sharing sites and product review sites (collectively, "online forums"). REI reserves the right to monitor your use of online forums and any violation of this Policy may result in disciplinary action, including and up to termination of your employment. REI reserves the right to suspend, modify or withdraw this Policy and you are responsible for regularly reviewing the Policy.
You are encouraged to express yourself in online forums, but as you participate you need to exercise care when your activities create connections, intended or not, with REI and your employment at the co-op. While today's world of open, networked information is exciting and highly dynamic, there are risks to you and to REI. This Policy and the guidelines in it are intended to help you navigate the intersection between your work at REI and your personal participation in online forums and to reduce the risks to yourself and REI.
- Your Personal Activities. Your personal participation in online forums is just that – personal, not company-endorsed communications. This also applies to your participation in online forums related to your occupation or profession. What you post is ultimately your responsibility and REI is not liable, under any circumstances, for any errors, omissions, losses or damages resulting from employee participation in online forums. Given that these postings are your personal views and you are legally responsible for them, you should not lead others to believe that you are making public statements on REI's behalf.
- REI-related Posts (Generally): If you publish or post online and it has to do with REI or your work at REI, you must clearly identify yourself as an employee and state that you are not speaking for REI.
- REI.com Community Participation: If you choose to participate in the REI.com Community you will need to create your user account by registering at www.rei.com/employee. Once registered, you will be badged as an REI employee, and the badge description will reference the fact that you do not speak for the company. You cannot participate in the REI.com Community unless you are badged as an REI employee. Some contests and promotions on our site will be limited to non-employees. We will indicate when this is the case and when we are running parallel, employee-only contests or promotions.
- Posts on Other REI Channels: When posting to REI's official external channels, such as REI's Facebook page and YouTube channel, you are expected to prominently use a clarifying statement (like the one below):
"I work at REI, but I am not speaking for REI. The views I share are my own and do not necessarily reflect REI's views."
- Information from Other Employees: You should not circulate postings or information from another REI employee without making clear that the author of the posting is an REI employee.
- Corporate Statements and Responses: If you believe a statement by REI is warranted in the online forums in which you engage, please contact the REI Public Affairs Department for assistance as required by our employee handbook – Living Our Values (see the section on "Public Statements").
- Conducting REI-related Business. REI strives to provide employees with business tools appropriate for the work they do. We recognize that technology is rapidly evolving in the arena of social networking and other online forums, but it is essential that work done on behalf of REI be conducted through company-endorsed networks that meet our legal and information security requirements. Using non-REI-endorsed networks for REI business puts the company at risk in a number of ways and, therefore, is prohibited.
- Common Sense. Common sense and good judgment remain the best guides to avoiding problems for yourself and REI. If you find yourself hesitating over whether a particular posting or comment is appropriate, then likely there is an issue and you should check with your manager, your HR OD Representative, or the ESC first. In general:
- Know and follow all of REI's applicable terms and policies, including those set forth in Living Our Values.
- Be professional and respectful. In particular, do not spam or make remarks that are off-topic or offensive. You should also show proper consideration for others' privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory, such as politics and religion.
- Do not disclose the confidential, proprietary or financial information of REI or anyone else. Consult REI's Confidential Information policy (see Living Our Values) for guidance on what constitutes confidential information. If you have a question about whether specific information is confidential or proprietary, contact the REI Public Affairs Department for clarification.
- Do not publish personal information about others, including REI members, customers, employees or vendors. Also remember that you should always get permission from friends, family members, and fellow employees before posting your pictures or videos of them.
- Respect trademark, copyright, fair use, trade secret and other intellectual property (IP) laws. Do not use, copy, publish or post REI's IP or anyone else's IP unless you are sure you have the legal right to do so. Examples of IP are logos, trademarks, photos, essays, product information, poems and music.
- If you make a mistake, admit it. Be upfront and be quick with your correction. If you modify an earlier post, make it clear that you have done so.
- If you make comments about companies or products, be sure your comments are truthful, accurate and fair, and can be substantiated. Critical posts about competitors and others generate ill will and can even lead to lawsuits, justified or not. Remember – REI does not allow employees to post product reviews on REI.com.
The following are some examples, in the form of FAQs, that may help you apply this Policy to your own situation:
- Question 1: I am the master tech at the Metropolis store and actively follow several cycling related blogs. Does this Policy mean that I can no longer participate in these discussion groups?
- Answer 1: No, you can still participate in those discussion groups. You should follow this Policy, however, and identify yourself as an REI employee and note that you are not speaking on behalf of the company. You should also be cautious about making statements about a particular product or company because your statements need to be truthful, accurate and substantiated.
- Question 2: As an employee, I am concerned about some of the bad publicity that REI is receiving across the Internet on the XYZ issue and I think that the information being published is wrong. Can I post the correct information to set the record straight?
- Answer 2: No, you cannot speak on behalf of REI in online forums, even if you want to defend the co-op. First, official company statements – including responses to statements of others about REI – are the responsibility of the Public Affairs Department. Second, you cannot disclose confidential or proprietary information about REI.
- Question 3: What if a member of the media or blogger contacts me about an online forum that concerns the business of REI?
- Answer 3: Again, you should refer that person to REI's Public Affairs Department.
- Question 4: A group of other employees and I want to create a Facebook page to show how much we love climbing and working at REI. Can we do that?
- Answer 4: Yes, to the extent that this is your personal page. Remember that you cannot use REI's IP (logo, images, etc.), and that, even though you can say you work at REI (and love it!), you should make it clear that your views are your own and you are not speaking on behalf of the company.
- Question 5: I went on a great hike with my friends and took some amazing pictures. Can I tell others about the trail and upload the pictures on the REI Community?
- Answer 5: Yes, as you are encouraged to participate in the REI Community. You should follow this Policy, however, and make sure that you are badged as an employee, and that you have the permission of people shown in the photos before posting them.
If you have any questions about this Policy or participating in online forums as an REI employee, please contact your manager, HR OD Representative or the Employee Service Center.