Social Media Policy

December 5, 2008



[a work in progress]

1. Connecting: Introduce yourself and tell me why you want to connect

Anyone becoming a follower must do so only if permission is granted by the user being followed. There is no particular question that I would ask, but one should be prompted on who is following them when using a site like twitter. This is to ensure the pure intentions of followers.  Honesty should be the number one priority when communicating online. 

2. Follow, add, friend:

When someone is contacting you to add you as a friend or follow you, there is no obligation for an immediate response. One should take as much time as needed to decide whether or not that contact is acceptable.  If there has been no face-to-face conversation regarding a following or adding of a friend then there is no obligation for an immediate response.

3. Privacy, boundaries and safety:

When considering privacy boundaries with friends, coworkers, and family, one should understand the complexity of individual disclosure. The network provider does have responsibilities to protect users’ privacy. It also has the responsibility of monitoring information that could potentially damage the reputation of the user. 

 I have found, in my experience with social media, that many people have a bolder presence on-line than they do in actual life.  This is because the process of interpersonal communication on-line is very safe.  It is much easier to create a message on-line than actually being face to face with another person.  The crucial element of spontaneity is absent when it comes to communicating on-line. 

4. Signal to noise:

Everyone experiences social media on their own individual level. Some are more vocal in expressing their thoughts and opinions, while others have a relatively silent presence on-line. As long as social media provides a way for people to express themselves without completely imposing information upon those who do not wish to receive it. Excessive status updates can be annoying, but they can be ignored as easily as a played-out television commercial. No one should have to justify ending a relationship on-line whether it be following or friending. 

5. Personal data and sharing:

Personal data and sharing has the potential to allow users to connect with others on a deeper level. If someone is comfortable sharing personal data they should be able to pursue any relationship on-line. It is important to note that information given on-line is not always reflective of the true personality of individuals.  Many people spend excessive time creating an on-line image that is simply not reflective of the person that created the profile.

6. My networking needs and uses:

Facebook is used to keep in touch with friends and family.  It usually provides a non formal way to communicate and share social aspects of their lives.  LinkedIn communication is professional and goal oriented.  There should be a separation in privacy because relationships on LinkedIn should reflect that of an actual business colleague.  Personal social information would be unnecessary and unprofessional.


By creating this policy I hope to challenge others to do the same and build on this example in order that we may, collectively, start to define some sort of social contract for social media.

Ideally, I’d love to see some Creative Commons-like tool that would allow users to craft their own personal social media contract as easily as they can create a CC license. Such a tool would also allow users to easily link or post the policy in a web friendly format.


For Immediate Release is a twice weekly commentary on public relations and technology.  Neville Hobson and Shel Holtz host the show via the For Immediate Release website or through podcast.  Hobson is located in Wokingham, Berkshire, England and Holtz is located in Concord, California.  Together, they offer a well-rounded perspective on the ever-changing world of public relations.


After a short introduction, Hobson and Holtz cut to Eric Schwartzman in Singapore for a report on the current use of social media to help leverage government communications.  Singapore is the richest country in south east Asia and there has been an explosion in the use of social media by communication professionals.  Schwartzman noted that the people of Singapore are openly willing to embrace any and every aspect of social media.  He explained how the people of Singapore are adapting to social media much faster than Americans.


Nicholas Aaron Khoo a communication professional in Singapore explained how the speed in which social media is being adapted has had dramatic effects in surrounding areas.  In Malaysia an incumbent party of the past 50 years was almost defeated in an election because the opposing party used social media for their campaign.  Even with the success of social media, many communicators have not figured out the rules to this new technology.  The government in Singapore use social media to cover up problems instead of addressing the issues at hand. 


The next topic was focused on a practical joke that two employees of the BBC that made a prank call to a veteran actor using foul language during a radio show.  There were over 30,000 complaints to the BBC about the call.  Clearly, many people were outraged by the prank call, but it is important to note that a facebook group was made with 34,000 members supporting the pranksters.  Hobson noted that there has become a need to have a rapid crisis management team to help address such problems.


This was my first time listening to For Immediate Release and I really enjoyed listening to all the different perspectives that were provided.  Aside from the ridiculous transition music, the information is presented in a very comprehendible manner and the hour long podcast seems to pass rather quickly.  I will continue to listen to For Immediate Release because the information is so current and really helpful to a student like myself going into the field of public relations.

Preparation for a Crisis

November 4, 2008

Donald Levy explores the dangers of journalists seeking to expose information that could possibly damage the reputation of a company.  He uses the hypothetical situation that popular documentary director Michael Moore makes an unexpected visit to a company demanding answers from the CEO.  If he cannot talk to the CEO, he would be more than comfortable putting the media relations person on the “hot seat” in order to get the information he needs for his documentary.

As a PR practitioner, one can be faced with many difficult decisions.  Since the reporter is unexpected, you have no statement prepared to address the problem.  You have not received permission to answer the questions that are being asked and doing so could cost the PR practitioner their job.  Avoiding the question completely or answering “no comment” only makes the company look suspicious and motivates journalists to be relentless in their search for finding damaging information.


The key to combating this potentially dangerous situation is preparation according to Levy.  Levy explains how the really difficult questions come from reporters who focus on how the company has taken advantage of the public or endangered them in some way.  Levy explains how the best response to negative accusations is by answering with what is referred to as a positive opposite (27).  When representing a company, the PR practitioner should explain that the organization sets out to protect its publics, not harm them. 

 It is always important to plan for the future when it comes to crisis situations.  Many problems can be solved by thinking ahead and having positive press releases, photos, video clips, or anything that can represent your company in a positive light.  Showing this type of hard evidence to journalist empowers the PR practitioner with credibility.


 This article helps me to understand the importance of being prepared for anything when it comes to representing your company.  To be an effective PR practitioner, one should always be thinking of hypothetical situations that could have a negative impact on the organization that is represented.  When answering questions, the PR practitioner should be fluid with responses and give the reporter not only words but physical evidence.  This preparation allows the practitioner to not only influence reporters perceptions, but it helps build valuable relationships with the various media outlets that are ultimately responsible for covering your organization.



Levy, Ronald N. (2007).  You: ready for Michael Moore.  Public Relations 

             Quarterly, Vol. 52.1 (pp.27-29)

Twitter: Is it for you?

November 4, 2008

Twitter is a social networking sight that allows you to post updates about yourself in 140 characters or less.  This efficient form of communication places emphasis on importance and brevity of information. 

In order to effectively use twitter, it is imperative to make frequent updates and have a vigilant following.  This is one factor that makes using this website difficult for me.  Twitter is only effective if you voluntarily disclose information about yourself.  While many people are comfortable with this minimal level of disclosure, I find the whole process a little bit strange.  I rarely make updates on my facebook account and it is incredibly difficult for me to voluntarily disclose information about myself.  I believe that it breaches my limit on personal disclosure. 

Twitter has been beneficial to many of my fellow students.  It has allowed them to make business contacts with CEO’s of large corporations.  Being able to make an important contact is priceless, especially if it only takes 140 characters of your time.  I will continue to use twitter sparingly until I find more relevant uses for it or until I become more comfortable with the nature of this site.