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4 elements of your social media policy that may be illegal

A study from Proskauer, a business-focused law firm, revealed that companies routinely take action against employees for their behavior on social media platforms, even when it’s their own account used on their own devices on their own time.

Although the infractions that prompted the disciplinary action may have been consistent with the companies’ social media policies, the policies themselves could be illegal. It’s time for companies to revisit their social media policies.

According to the Proskauer report, more than 70 percent of companies reported taking disciplinary measures over misuse of confidential information (80 percent), misrepresentation of the company’s views (71 percent), inappropriate non-business use of social media (67 percent), and disparaging remarks about the business or fellow employees (64 percent).

Read through just about any company’s social media policy, and you’ll find that the document spells out employees’ obligations in these and other regards. But in a sweeping ruling last week, an administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board ruled these and other policy elements could violate workers’ protected speech.

To begin with, the judge ruled on a provision in Kroger’s policy (Kroger is a U.S.-based grocery store chain) barring employees from online behavior that would be inappropriate at work and that would reflect negatively on the company, deeming it overly broad. It could, the judge said, bar protected speech such as criticism of the company’s treatment of employees or discussion of wages, hours, and terms of employment.

I always look to IBM’s Social Computing Guidelines for best-in-class policy language. The eighth plank of that policy cautions employees not to engage in any “conduct that would not be appropriate or acceptable in IBM’s workplace.”

Between companies that used IBM’s policy as a template and those with like-minded lawyers and HR staff, a lot of organizations will have to consider whether they can retain this clause. But we’re not done yet.

The third item on IBM’s list instructs employees to “make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of IBM.” Kroger had a similar rule, also struck down by the judge. This, according to the ruling, “unduly burdens employees’ rights because it would be likely to chill employees’ willingness to engage in protected communications.”

The judge didn’t dispute that Kroger has a valid interest in not wanting it to appear that employees are speaking on its behalf, but did assert that so few employees’ social interactions could be confused with official Kroger statements that the company’s interest cannot override employees’ rights.

IBM’s 12th and final policy forbids employees to “misuse IBM logos or trademarks and only use them if you have the authority to do so.”

Not so fast. The judge found this provision overly broad, as it prohibits a lot of non-offensive uses of the company’s intellectual property that employees might be inclined to use as part of their protected communications.

The final IBM plan you’ll find in almost every social media policy reads, in part, “Don’t provide IBM’s or a client’s, partner’s or supplier’s confidential or other proprietary information.”

Again, the judge turned policies upside down by ruling that this restriction violates Section 8 of the National Labor Relations Act because it prohibits employees from having conversations about personnel matters and business plans, which are also protected under Section 7 of the act.

These four components often serve as the foundation for company social media policies. Each has been found illegal, at least as they apply to Kroger’s policy. If your U.S.-based company’s policy contains any of these elements, it’s time for a meeting to determine whether a major rewrite is in the cards.

PR firms agree to play by Wikipedia’s editing rules

Eleven large PR firms issue statement agreeing to comply with the online encyclopedia’s rules after an investigation into paid edits on the site.

In the wake of a dispute over paid edits of Wikipedia pages, 11 of the largest public relations firms have agreed to comply with the online encyclopedia’s rules.

The move comes after Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that administers Wikipedia, threatened a public relations agency last year with legal action for what it called “suspicious edits” of the online encyclopedia’s pages to promote organizations or products.

Acknowledging that “prior actions of some in our industry have led to a challenging relationship” with Wikipedia editors, the firms vowed in a statement Tuesday to abide by the site’s policies and guidelines as well as its terms of service. The firms also promised to police their own industry and counsel their clients in regard to proper conduct on the site.

“On behalf of our firms, we recognize Wikipedia’s unique and important role as a public knowledge resource,” the statement reads. “Our firms believe that it is in the best interest of our industry, and Wikipedia users at large, that Wikipedia fulfill its mission of developing an accurate and objective online encyclopedia. Therefore, it is wise for communications professionals to follow Wikipedia policies as part of ethical engagement practices.”

The issue came to a head last October when the Wikimedia announced it had shut down more than 250 editing accounts as part of an investigation into an increase in paid edits on the nonprofit site by sockpuppets, or online identities used for purposes of deception. Reports in The Daily Dot and Vicelinked the rise to a service called Wiki-PR, which formerly billed itself as “Wikipedia writers for hire.”

Wiki-PR’s services pages formerly promised clients a “page management service” so that their Wikipedia presence wasn’t “left up to chance.” Although those references have been removed, the services page includes “crisis editing,” which is designed to help clients who feel they are being treated “unfairly” on Wikipedia “navigate contentious situations.”

After discussions failed to resolve the issue to its satisfaction, Wikimedia sent a cease-and-desist letter to Wiki-PR CEO Jordan French in November that warned it was “prepared to take any necessary legal action to protect its rights.”

Wiki-PR did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the firms’ statement, but French told CNET last October that Wikipedia had been overzealous in its investigation.

“Senior Wikipedia administrators closed the sockpuppet investigation after concluding that we were paid editors paying other editors,” French wrote in an email to CNET. “Volumes of Wikipedia pages we didn’t work on were wrongly swept into that investigation. We do pay hundreds of other editors for their work — they’re real people and not sockpuppets.”

Wikipedia’s Terms of Use expressly forbid “attempting to impersonate another user or individual, misrepresenting your affiliation with any individual or entity, or using the username of another user with the intent to deceive.”

The firms signing the agreement included Beutler Ink, Ogilvy & Mather, FleishmanHillard, Peppercomm, Burson-Marsteller, Ketchum, Porter Novelli, Voce Communications, Edelman, Allison+Partners, and Glover Park Group.

CNET has contacted Wikimedia for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

Source:cnet.com

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Sunny Leone Set To Sizzle In DK With Prem

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Sunny Leone is in demand and she is all set to add that extra zing in a Kannada film titled DK opposite Prem.

“I was in Mumbai recently to discuss the song with Sunny Leone. She has given her nod to be a part of the film,” says the director turned actor Prem, who had earlier roped in few Bollywood hotties for the item song in his movies.

Prem, who has earlier worked with Yana Gupta for his film Jogi and Mallika Sherawat in Preethi Yeke Bhoomi Melide caught much attention when he had brought in Scarlett Wilson for his film Prem’s Adda.

The trend continues with him bringing in the latest bombshell of Bollywood, Sunny Leone for a special appearance in his upcoming film DK directed by Udaya Prakash. As we know, Prem had previously tried to rope in Sunny Leone for a film but it did not work. Not losing hope, he took another chance and this time he has succeeded. Sunny will do an item song in DK and as per our sources, the actress has been paid a little more than a whopping 40 lakh to sizzle on screen.

Source:in.movies.yahoo.com

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It would be interesting to learn how Prem charmed these beauties to work in his films. Ask him about it and he chuckles, “Yes, I have always brought in an interesting factor to my films, which has garnered a lot of attention. Sunny this time has agreed, but everything will be finalised once we are done with the agreement. Till then, I have to keep my lips sealed,” he says.

The makers of DK are planning to release a threatrical teaser in three theatres on the day of the muhurath, sometime this month.

Apart from Sunny Leone, DK has invited a lot of speculation. “There have been different thoughts about DK. Some think the film is based on the life of politician DK Shivakumar, who is currently the Minister of Energy in Karnataka, while few others think it is about politician HD Kumaraswamy. But I ask all of them to come and watch the film and then decide what the subject is all about.” stated Prem.

Here’s wishing team DK all the best.

9 tips for managing your own marketing

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We’ve made it to June—a month observed by entrepreneurs and small business owners as Do-It-Yourself Marketing Month. In honor of that, here are a few tips for some easy DIY steps to help your PR and marketing: 

1. Friends close, enemies closer

Perhaps the word “enemies” goes a bit too far—but you should identify your competitors. In marketing, this will help you to consider what they’re doing that appears to be working or failing (both in their business activities and in the marketing efforts). It provides you a chance to serve your market better or differently. Never close your eyes to who else is in your space, but don’t obsess about it, either. 

2. Budget brutal

How can you plan an attack if you haven’t prepared for the pennies and the pounds that it may entail? Take time to set out a marketing budget. Most of us in the industry suggest at least 15 percent of your sales budget should specifically go into marketing and PR—much more in certain cases. Setting a budget helps you define whether your marketing will encompass above the line advertising, printed matter, media relations work, or lots of old-fashioned “pressing the flesh.” 

3. And your point is?

You can’t begin your marketing until you’ve considered your key messaging. This might be as simple as defining the following: 

• Who are we? 
• What do we stand for? 
• Where are we trying to go? 
• What do people perceive us to be? 

This relatively straightforward analysis can be done in DIY form or by engaging a  research company. The results will help your marketing substantially. 

4. Online or out of the race

There’s a good reason telephone books have become doorstops in many business cases: We know modern savvy consumers shop for business services by searching the Internet. 

An online presence is essential. There are DIY facilities available for this, or you can take the guidance of a dedicated company that will help you create a brand presence online. 

5. Content marketing: Take off the dark glasses

Being online with a website is one thing, but the picture is not complete unless people have a chance of finding you. Without some effective content marketing, being there on a website is like blinking behind dark glasses. You know you’re doing it, but no one else does. 

Some of the simplest DIY approaches to content marketing lie in making sure you’re regularly updating your site—through blogs, news feeds, anything to keep the search engines aware that you’re an open shop and continually moving. 

If your budget is slightly more flush, talk to a PR agency about copywriting and content marketing work to help you. 

6. Socially savvy

You don’t necessarily want to know when the person down the road is having a cup of tea or watching his toddler cut its teeth, but updates by yourself and others on social media do encourage traffic and relationships. DIY is very easy to achieve initially. Take a look at what you think Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube could be doing for you. 

7. Network with intent

Many of us loathe networking, but the eyeball-to-eyeball factor in marketing is important. Look at what’s happening in terms of business networking events in your region or industry. You never know whom you might meet. 

8. PR power—with the who, what, where, why, when

They say there’s a  every one of us. I’m pretty sure there’s a story within every company, too. Media relations and the process of getting stories to journalists is a really effective way to boost your PR and marketing. When creating a press release, consider the who, what, where, why, or when of your story. Think also about a good photo to help tell the story. You can always phone a PR consultant for further advice if you’re stumped. 

9. Evolve and evaluate

Static marketing plans—and those that aren’t frequently assessed for effectiveness—can be more of a detriment than an asset. Keep looking at new ways to tell your story and to reach your audience. 

Source:prdaily.com

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How to make a bigger splash with your LinkedIn profile

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When LinkedIn opened up its publishing platform in February to our members, many people jumped on the opportunity right away.

They were eager to make use of a powerful new tool to help define their professional profiles and share their expertise with people in their field and beyond. Consider my colleague Mike Gamson, who dived right in with a series of pithy posts, and David W. Andrews, a butler who talked about the evolution of that domestic role.

Others of us have regarded this swimming pool with a bit more trepidation. We like to get used to the temperature one toe at a time.

The fear is only natural. Maybe we don’t view ourselves as great writers? Maybe we write for a living, so the bar for an excellent post is very high? Or maybe we just want to say something brilliant enough to augment our sparkling professional profiles?

Or maybe it’s that nagging suspicion about the mediocrity of our LinkedIn profiles. A fellow mom at my daughter’s school said she was embarrassed to connect to me on LinkedIn, because she didn’t think her profile was good enough for me to see.

She’s not the only one.

Some of our members have confided that they’ve put off publishing on LinkedIn because they don’t feel their profiles are up to snuff and they want to spiff up first. That’s like waiting to plan a great beach vacation until you’ve lost five pounds.

In the interest of helping my fellow poolside professionals dive right in, here are a few quick fixes that anyone can and should do to improve their professional profile in less than 10 minutes:

  • Tip 1: Tweak your settings before making changes. This is more of a pre-tip: We know a lot of you might be shy about making changes to your profiles for fear of inadvertently alerting your network to your edits. Don’t worry; this is easy to prevent. Simply turn off your activity broadcasts under privacy controls. While you’re at it, run through all the settings for your profile, communications, groups, and accounts to make sure everything is set just the way you want it. For instance, I can’t keep up with all my emails as it is, so I make sure I do not receive emails from group members or leaders.

    Tip 2: Definitely use the summary section. This is one of the most overlooked opportunities to establish your professional voice and credibility. Think of it as what you’d say about your career trajectory at a dinner party to someone you’d like to impress, or what you’d hope your friend might say about you when recommending you to someone else. A good rule of thumb is to make it 40 words or more. If you are looking for career opportunities, be sure to include keywords featured in a description of a desirable job in your field, as it will make your profile more likely to turn up in a potential employer’s search.

    Tip 3: Share some personality. This is not the 1980s, when the paper   you chose for your resume actually mattered. In addition to the role descriptions and slots for outside activities (boards, interests, and volunteering and causes), you can convey a lot more about who you are as a person and who you might be as an employee. To quickly give your profile some pizzazz, visually enhance your professional story by adding slide decks, videos, and other projects to demonstrate the impact of your work, your company’s mission, or your team’s capabilities.

    Tip 4: Proofread, proofread, proofread. Though the tone can be informal and conversational, the spelling, grammar, and punctuation shouldn’t be sloppy. You should offer a well-written profile that reflects a well-put together professional—even more so if you’re in the communications field. Ask for help if you need a second set of eyes.

    Tip 5: Get a great profile picture. Our data shows that a strong headshot—full color and well lighted—is one of the best and fastest ways to improve your profile. It’s a lot like when you’re looking for a house to buy: If there’s no photo, you assume something’s wrong with the property. People like to put a face with a name. Make yours terrific.

With these few steps, you’ll be well on your way to a more enriching LinkedIn experience. You may even find yourself ready to start sharing news and your perspectives with your professional contacts. Let me know how the deep end feels.

Source:prdaily.com

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