Chapter 3: Avoiding Legal Hassles

Chapter 3 is very informative in regards to the rules, laws, and regulations practitioners should follow when using and giving information when writing. For example, the section on employee newsletters illustrates how limited writers are in offering information on its employees. An organization has to be cautious in reporting on the activities of its employees. Guidelines to help ensure that writers avoid defamation include:

1) Keep the focus on organization-related activities 

2) Have employees submit “personals” in writing

3) Double-check all information for accuracy

4) Ask: “Will this embarrass anyone or cause someone to be the butt of jokes?”

5) Don’t rely on secondhand information

6) Don’t include racial or ethnic designations of employees (Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques).

The chapter also features a section on media inquiries about employees (Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques). I never truly considered the sanctity of an individual’s personal information. Many times, we assume that people want others to tell others about them. In a personal setting, I suppose that’s ok. However, we are often unaware of when we should and should not share personal information about others. When contacted by the media, only basic information should be provided, including confirmation that the person is an employee, the person’s title and job description, the date of beginning employment, or, if applicable, date of termination. If the reporter seeks more information, one can volunteer to call the employee and have the person speak directly with the reporter. This frees the organization from responsibility (Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques).

A concept that stands out to me in the chapter is misappropriation of personality. This results with the unauthorized use of well-known entertainers, professional athletes, and other public figures in an organization’s publicty and advertising materials. Permission and licensing fees must be negotiated before such materials can be used (Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques). I was unaware that using a likeness of a  famous personality is a form of trademark infringement.


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