Privacy laws remain the same, even in electronic mediums. Many organizations think the rules might be different, but actually the same rules apply. This was a key point from the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA-NCC) September 13 professional development panel.
The expert panel included:
• Brigitte Johnson, PRSA-NCC president and director of communications and executive editor at American Forest Foundation
• Randy Barrett, communications director, Center for Public Integrity
• Justin Brookman, director, Consumer Privacy Project, Center for Democracy & Technology
• Christian Olsen, vice president for the Digital and Social Media team at Levick Strategic Communications
All the panelists reminded the audience about the importance of being transparent regarding who you are representing when pitching online media.
Barrett commented on the concerns of media and journalists. Media outlets try to avoid the appearance of any kind of bias and ask their journalists to be careful of whom they “like” on Facebook. Journalists should also always identify themselves when on social media, verify all social media leads and remember social media posts are discoverable in court.
Always disclose who is behind a post, because transparency is key says Brookman. He recommended looking at why and how much secondary data you might be collecting and be sure to disclose how it will be used. You should try to avoid unnecessary collection. He used the example of mobile apps, which can often have access to all the data on the phone. Olsen agreed and commented on how he removed the Facebook app from his smartphone, because he thought Facebook went too far when his entire address book of phone numbers imported to his Facebook account.
Public relations professionals have an obligation to counsel clients on how to be transparent in social media. Olsen encouraged the audience to understand the rules of the various platforms and said everyone needs to be monitoring what is being said through various tools, whether that be a free or paid tool(s). But as good as tools might be, it’s important to have someone, who has an understanding of the industry as well as social media, reviewing the information.
PRSA-NCC president Johnson reviewed the code of ethics for several professional organizations and found they all had truth, honesty, and fairness as the basis for the codes. She commented that we are all guided by our ethics, first, so don’t ignore them. She encouraged all to work to stop the idea of being spin pros.
How do you counsel clients on privacy and transparency? Are their examples you can share with the BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers?