Ramonna and I recently attended the bi-annual meeting for the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN) in New York City. PRGN has a pretty incredible global membership base of leading independent public relations agencies in 80 markets and we were invited to join as the only Colorado-based agency this past April. The majority of the three-day conference was spent sharing best practices and hearing from expert panelists that the NY-based member agencies, CooperKatz , JMC Marketing Communications and PR and Adam Friedman Associates brought together. In addition, there was a very provocative presentation on “Social Media and the Law” that was offered by Gary Kibel of Davis & Gilbert LLP www.dglaw.com that left us continuing to think about how many legal implications are popping up surrounding social media. As agency owners and practitioners, we must remain mindful of our responsibilities regarding the new media programs we create and implement.
We all know to be especially sensitive when marketing to kids under the age of 13 in traditional campaigns, however this sensitivity is further heightened by new social media programs. In addition, while the FTC has already come out with new “affiliate marketing/testimonial” guidelines, we will most likely see a change in a requirement that company-sponsored social media sites offer full disclosure and affiliate social media sites will most likely to have to disclose that they have been paid for their testimonials. As PR professionals, it should go without saying that if we are being compensated to talk about someone’s product, then we need to disclose it during the outreach.
The legal implication list is endless, but in the midst of planning and research, it is becoming increasingly vital to continue to educate your staff and teams about the changing legal issues that affect online and offline PR campaigns. Education is always the first line of defense and will help us all avoid legal problems, know when to raise the red flags and ask questions and keep current on the new court cases that are decided everyday. The increased use of Facebook and Twitter and other social media vehicles are creating new questions that we must be prepared to address.
We are always mindful of the intellectual property issues that PR firms confront, but how many of us stop and work with legal teams prior to creating a viral campaign? It could make the difference between a successful campaign and a lawsuit. I would personally rather celebrate a fabulous campaign.
I look forward to a few more lively debates when we all reconvene in Brussels in April. Until then, here’s to putting a strong legal team behind every solid PR campaign.