Be Wary of Leaking Info On Social Networks

A good public relations professional has always gone to great lengths to protect the public release of information about client projects and privileged information. Now, with the steady advent of social media, professionals need to take further care in protecting information about their clients and their own business practice.

This weekend, my son Johnny got engaged to his girlfriend Erin down in Alexandria, Va. The engagement on Sunday was a surprise on her birthday. John had worked it out with her family and ours to let us in on the planned date, and made us all part of the experience with a day-long family celebratory limo ride to tour three Virginia wineries after popping the question alone with Erin that morning. Since my son and his girlfriend are Facebook friends, early on I came to the conclusion that I had to be careful who I told about the planned engagement, knowing that all that was needed to erase the surprise was one exuberant relative or friend to spill the beans on my Facebook wall.

In the week leading up to the engagement, I read a story about Twitter and Facebook etiquette that included information about couples being beaten to the punch on announcing great news like an engagement or pregnancy. This made me even more conscious of the dangers of having the coming surprise engagement, ruined for my son and future daughter in-law because of what I may say to others.

This experience has also made me even more cognizant  of what information to share publicly and privately about any client partner. A few standards to follow are:

– Don’t post anything online you would not have placed into a client-approved press release

– If you are embargoing anything for the press, keep it private as well online

– Do not post any event or other client-related photos that have not been officially approved by a client

– Make sure any image of an individual, celebrity spokesperson, etc., has their approval before posting

– If producing online video for a client program make sure you have a waiver form for those being filmed to sign

– Remember who you have invited to be part of your social groups and what groups you yourself have joined

The communications world has certainly changed but one thing remains a standard. Protect your client by being ever watchful of not only what is being said about them, but what you are saying as well.

Tom Cosentino

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