Don’t Slip into the “Spin Zone “

There has been a lot of media coverage about what’s going on at Penn State, which has resulted in thefiring of head coach Joe Paterno. Actually, Penn State didn’t use the word “fire”, but I am, because that’s what happened. He was planning on retiring from that position, but they showed him the door. I’d say that’s a firing, wouldn’t you? 
A Wall Street Journal column I read called “A Four-Letter Word Schools Won’t Use” says that Penn State isn’t the only school that avoids that word; NCAA programs don’t use it either when they get rid of a coach. Maybe they want to avoid lawsuits or don’t want to sound harsh, but I think they should get out of the spin zone and be real about what’s going on. If they choose to not really talk about what has happened, then the media and public will take over the message and create what they want out of it.

If the concern is a lawsuit, then a company or organization should focus on what’s good and say as much as they can to control their image. It’s a lot better than having the media, bloggers, and all sorts of people online and elsewhere fill in the blanks with their own theories and opinions. When that happens, even a simple Google search can make all kinds of negativity come up instead of what the organization wants people to see.

Even though I think that being open and honest is the best way to go, I doubt the schools will go that route because they seem to think that playing it safe is better than communicating honestly with the public. However, if they continue to do that, someone is going to take the image ball and run with it, and it might end up not being the best policy after all.


Facebook – A Hairy Liability for Lawyers Working with the Media?

I read some good advice on the Slaw blog about a partner of a law firm who was “friends” with a reporter on Facebook. The reporter wanted a good picture of the attorney, and dug through Facebook to find one. Luckily, the photo wasn’t embarrassing, but can you imagine if it were? Not only would that be a public relations disaster, it could affect the firm and the attorney’s own professional life.  
So let this be a lesson to be careful about what you do on Facebook, and who you friend there, because you never know how much people will do with what you post or where you’re tagged.
If you’re wondering if there’s anything embarrassing about you on Facebook, do a search on Foupas, which is a Facebook search engine. Just do a search for your name, and try using quotes around it to see if you get different results. Some people forget what they’ve posted on Facebook, or didn’t pay attention when a photo was taken, and voila…they end up in a photo they wish had never existed. 

If you feel like you’ve gone too far and done too much on Facebook that is making you feel uncomfortable, you can try deactiving your Facebook account to reassess your activities. Some people end up deleting their account and starting over, so that any tags or posts they’re in are gone, and they can start fresh.

Whenever I think about posting anything on Facebook, I ask myself how it will affect my reputation, and even now, I feel like I’m pretty careful about what I post. But some people let their guards down and end up doing things that they don’t want other people to see…such as posting photos on a network of reporters who might end up using an embarrassing picture of them! So you really have to be careful out there.