Sharing your business’ “secret sauce” with another blogger, funder, public relations company or corporate brand can be risky–for everyone involved. This is risk in any industry, and most especially in one defined by abstract intellectual property and plenty of clout on communication channels. Information leaks also are risks in businesses where it would be destructive for an audience to know too much about the behind-the-scenes sausage-making details. So with blogging often occurring the nexus of communications, entertainment, advertising and start-ups of all kinds, proprietary information is at a premium.
Loose lips sink ships, and one loose tweet could bring down a startup, a campaign or a blogger’s rep.
One way to mitigate those risks is to secure non-disclosure agreements (NDA)/ confidentiality agreement from the individuals and businesses you work with.
What is an NDA?
Essentially, when you sign an NDA you are assuring the requester that you won’t share their business practices, trade secrets, information or intellectual property. Sometimes an NDA is an contract in and of itself, or sometimes a non-disclosure clause is added to a larger contract that covers other items like payment terms or project deliverables. Some NDAs are mutual, meaning the promises go both ways, but more often they are one-way documents.
NDAs are fairly standard, and as a blogger you’ll be asked to sign one now and then, to be sure.
Should you ask people to sign NDAs?
If you initiate projects or collaborations, if you hire staff or interns, or if you are seeking funding, NDAs are a tool worth learning about. Don’t be shy to ask for someone to give you the assurance of an NDA, as they should be no big deal to sign. No one should be planning to share someone’s gig, right? As with any legal contract, templates are available online, but it’s also advisable to have a lawyer review the documents you sign or that protect your business.
If you sign an NDA, as Cartman might say, respect its authori-tay. Talking out of school whether on a platform or one-on-one, or even doing something as simple as forwarding an email to someone who shouldn’t be in that particular information loop, isn’t professional and could have huge ramifications.
It’s also good to keep in mind that enough blogger NDAs are in place to wallpaper Facebook, so don’t get frustrated when pro bloggers don’t share details about the business practices of the programs they participate in or direct. Every detail is someone’s bread and butter, and not only is it not fair to share that information, it’s probably protected.
Today might be a good day to sift through your contract files and see if everything is in order with your project NDAs, or to take a few minutes to learn more about non-disclosure clause uses and limitations. How have you used NDAs in your work?