The paper discusses the tensions between constitutional law, i.e. the First Amendment, online defamation cases, and the needs of members in society to protect their reputation.
Could the citation of blog posts in legal journals be a growing trend? If so, there are probably some important considerations for maintaining the reference source for future readership. For more on this topic see Slaw.
“Reputation Management Law” is the application of old legal principles to new public relations challenges due to the proliferation of social media. It draws upon the intersection of defamation, privacy, copyright and trade-mark, and employment laws, but applies them in conjunction with contemporary best practices in the public relations field.
Reputation matters like never before, and the impact of social media on the bottom line means businesses and professionals are paying attention. Between sites that review businesses and services, and blogs optimized to rank higher on Google searches, clients are now asking lawyers what they can do for them.
Me: “Coming from a background in crisis communications, I’m sure defamation is something you’ve had pretty in depth exposure to, especially in sort of a private sector way. I was wondering if you could give us some actionable insights into how small business or private owners might react to that sort of exposure online.”
Omar: “Well, I think you touched on it exactly there with your last few words there, is that they shouldn’t be reacting. In my opinion, and this is I think a benchmark in the communications industry, private sector should not be reacting to defamatory statements or statements that are affecting their credibility.
What they should be doing is acting proactively and mitigating the threat from the outset. So what that means is that they should be online, they should have a web presence, they should have blogs and Twitter and all those things that we see communications people talking about because the reality is if you wait until the crisis is there it’s already too late.
And we saw that for example with the BP British Petroleum oil crisis, where BP realized that after the oil spill everybody was talking about them on Twitter, everybody, and there was even a fake Twitter account parodying BP’s response (@BPGlobalPR – still active with 182,033 followers). They came to the party late. They showed up and they tried to provide their perspective, their point of view, and at that point, it was way too late. The community of people that were already there online weren’t willing to listen to them because it was so obvious that they had just showed up to try to influence things in a different way, whereas had they been involved in communicating with the public prior to this, well in advance of any sort of incident, then they may have had a different type of relationship and a different type of communication with the public.”
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