Posts Tagged ‘LAW’

Legal Issues with Employee Blogging: Perry Binder, J.D.

September 19, 2009

Perry Binder, J.D. is a legal studies professor at Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business, where he teaches law. While Perry speaks often about the legal pitfalls of social media, he is one of the leading proponents of social media as a means to connect businesses to each other, and for public relations professionals to manage and promote a company’s message.


Mr. Binder begins his presentation by showcasing the Pepsi Harrier Jet Commercial. The advertisement addressed Pepsi Points and prizes you can win. However, an individual in Seattle wanted a jet from Pepsi Points and rounded some investors, BUT Pepsi couldn’t deliver the jet. A lawsuit was filed against Pepsi.

According to Binder, this story showcases that lawsuits are a part of any campaign and practitioners need to look at the law side of things. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to be funny, Binder says that law is still an integral part of a campaign.

Flash-forward to 2009, where we, as practitioners, are constantly selling and promoting. Moreover, it brings us to employees blogging (promoting) about a product or a service and the implications associated with blogging.

Perry Binder calls upon the following examples for success and failures in social networking:

Social Networking:PR Success Stories

  • Dell (Twitter): 1.1 million followers on Dell twitter page. Dell also gives away coupons.
  • JetBlue (Twitter): Puts flight delays, flight info on twitter.
  • Starbucks (Twitter): Will take customer feedback
  • Ford (Twitter): Gave away cars for bloggers who blog about Ford.

PR Blunders:

  • Attorney: A judge found out that the attorney was lying by looking at her facebook.
  • Target: A UGA student found out that Target wasn’t being transparent. Target gave away coupons for people that blog about them.

Questions to think about: What happens when employees control the message or non-employees pass the messages along? The internet is creating new challegens–daily. So how do you deal with the reality?


Blogs makes griping much easier.

  • Photo Blog: Flight attendant Ellen Simonetti posted provocative photos of herself in uniform on her blog. She was fired.
  • Not Funny Blog: Microsoft worker Michael Hanscom thought the photo on his blog of competitor computers sitting on his company loading dock was funny. His employer called it a security violation. He was fired.
  • Trade Secret Blog: Google employee Mark Jen did a blog on life at his new job, including talks on potential products. He was fired.

But blogging is still a valuable marketing tool.

Blog Policy At Work:

  • Trade Secrets: Cannot put propriety information about company.
  • Negative Reflection of Company: Cannot say anything negative that reflects poorly of the company.
  • Harrasment: Cannot put anything related to gender, race, etc about employee cannot be posted.
  • Discrimination
  • Defamatory Statements: Cannot put any lies about service, etc