I understand why the Whole Foods board decided to ban company executives from blogging or commenting on any non-Whole Foods site, a decision that Houston Chronicle business writer Loren Steffy talks about on his blog. But it's the wrong decision.
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey got in hot water, you may remember, for posting about the company's battle to buy competitor Wild Oats without identifying himself.
Steffy calls the new policy "stunningly obvious," but it's not. Yes, it's stunningly obvious that executives should not be revealing non-public information or pretending to be someone else in their online activities.
But no online participation anywhere outside of the the company's own sites? That's a mistake. Don't you want your people to be establishing an online presence, networking, and showing their thought leadership in relevant communities?
That's like telling the Wall Street Journal, "Sorry, you can't speak to Mr. Mackey, you're not a Whole Foods publication." PR folks have been getting angling to get executives into publications forever, because there is a real benefit. The benefits in the world of social media are similar, and Whole Foods is making a mistake by locking up their top people online.