MyRagan: social media and legal?

This post is in regards to a question @ MyRagan “Can Legal, communicators reach accord on social media?”

This is a very complex question, mostly formed by the understanding that legal and communication operate under two entirely different models. For the most part, legal is a risk based model and communications are an opportunity model. While segments of channel occasionally have similar goals, they rarely agree on much of anything.

The only real time that legal and communicators will connect is when the two niches reach a like-minded adoption point.

Right now communicators are being thrust through a speedy evolution. I’m sure many would say they are “hanging on to a rocket for one hell of a ride”

Lawyers are often 18 to 36 months behind the rocket, watching as it shoots into the sky and pondering the thought “what are we going to do about all this smoke?”

This causes many corporate communication groups to be tied up by legal concerns as they adopt the evolution trend of the lawyers. Unfortunately that means they leave the business and the marketplace open to smaller and more nimble competitors.

In the same time delay, employees and mid-management are naturally being exposed to social media channels… often creating decisions that executive teams most spend tremendous effort to maneuver around.

When we think about this fundamental scenario, most legal teams argue “we can’t build new rockets because of the danger” and communication teams are flying around saying “it isn’t our choice; we are already airborne.”

While you ponder that conflict, I decided to include MyRagan’s bullet list of “five things lawyers look for in social media.”

How many other things can you look for in your social media communications?

5 things lawyers look for in social media

  • 1. Use properly attributed content. Whether you’re using content—a photo, song, or video—a defense attorney will want to make sure you’ve checked out licensing agreements, consents, and intellectual property rights.
  • 2. Avoid unfair or deceptive trade practices. Don’t give the Federal Trade Commission any reason to investigate your company’s social media presence by making outrageous, false, or misleading claims.
  • 3. Keep in mind the FTC’s guidelines that require bloggers (and now social networking sites) to disclose when they’ve received freebies in exchange for a review.
  • 4. Will you allow feedback, comments or trackbacks? Erickson asks: “Do you want others to link to the company fan page? Should users be able to leave comments on a company blog anonymously? Should someone moderate, review, and possibly reject some comments? Would moderation really be manageable?”
  • 5. In case something goes wrong, have a crisis communications plan in mind—or even better, in place—that includes Legal. It’s also a good idea to have a social media policy, so your employees know how they should act on the Web.