This is an exciting time to work in PR! While traditional media may be having their well-documented troubles (no need to go over them here), the advent of social media has opened up an entire new realm for us to play in!
We Facebook friend reporters, follow celebrities on Twitter and try to be our own little Steven Spielbergs on YouTube.
The famous Spiderman line is “With great power comes great responsibility;” for PR pros, the similar line should be “All eyes are on us, we’d better be careful!”
We have self-identified ourselves as information nodes, the hub of activity, the go-to place for news/hot parties/restaurant openings/etc. When we scream “PAY ATTEN TION TO ME, WORLD!!!!!” we must be prepared for THE WORLD to pay attention to us.
Anything you post on any site, be it personal or work, has unlimited amount of eyeballs on it at any given time. As social networking gets older and younger, with people over 50 and under 18 populating the cyberworld–along with our peers, friends, coworkers and clients–at increasing rates, we must be sensitive to those audiences.
Here are 3 tips to keep yourself protected:
1) Don’t put EVERYTHING out there. You have political, religious, policy views. Be careful about what you put out there, so as to not offend or turn off your audience. Michael Jordan knew this when he famously told Sam Smith that “Republicans buy sneakers, too.“ Later in life, he supported Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign, but millions of dollars in the bank can make it easier to speak your mind in a public forum. I’m not saying NOT express your views, just use discretion.
2) Pretend (if you need to!) that every member of your family is reading. I have several familymembers on Facebook that all have access to my profile. That helps keep me grounded on what I should or should not post. My basic rule is that I shouldn’t post anything I don’t want my Dad to see, since he will see it! This rule applies to clients, coworkers, friends and anyone else who can see your posts and photos. Watch your language, clothing and affiliations. Jokes can be funny…or ruin you. Just ask Don Imus.
3) Don’t be a saint, but don’t be a total sinner. When clients come to us to help project their image and message, WE are part of their team. If we Tweet about the houseparty we didn’t make it home from or the time we drank a 12 pack in 30 minutes or post a Facebook photo of us looking…green (these are not personal examples, necessarily!) and our clients, coworkers and bosses can see them, what does that do for our image? We don’t need to be Puritanical robots, but we don’t need to broadcast all of our off-hour exploits to those we work for while on the clock.
Social media is a terrific tool for us in our personal and professional lives. Just remember that everything you put up builds (or destroys) your personal “brand.” Everybody’s watching us…we asked for it…and we need to respect it, too.
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