I received an interesting email the other day and its author agreed to let me reprint some of its contents as long as I didn’t mention her name. In it she wondered about confidentiality agreements:
The contract for this network comes with a non-disclose clause which makes me pause. Does this mean the business has something to hide? Why is so terrible for me to discuss compensation or my issues with management with other bloggers? Should I sign a contract with a confidentially agreement?
Here’s the way I see it…
Successful businesses are successful for a reason. They do things others don’t. If their business model or "secret" formula was released to the general public, would they continue to be so successful? If the Colonel publicized his secret recipe, would KFC be the popular chicken joint it is today? Just because a company is asking bloggers to keep their inner workings to themselves doesn’t mean anything unsavory is going on. It just means they’re protecting their assets.
Should You Sign?
Of course the ultimate decision is up to the blogger, but I don’t see any reason one shouldn’t sign. Especially if it’s a reputable business with a good name. When I worked in corporate America I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement for almost every place I worked and most of my clients request one now. I’m more concerned about why the author of the email thinks it’s not good business practice to sign a confidentiality agreement yet mentions she would discuss "management issues" with other bloggers. If a blogger has internal issues it’s a better idea to talk to superiors. If there’s an issue with an editor, talk to another trusted editor or manager. There’s no reason to talk about network business with those outside the network. If they trust a blogger enough to hire him, they’re trusting him to keep certain details to himself.
Non-disclosure clauses aren’t anything out of the ordinary. Businesses are protecting themselves by asking you to sign, they’re not trying to hide anything.