Marilyn's Life From East to West

Chapter 12- Public Relations and the Law
April 29, 2009, 2:31 am
Filed under: Reading Notes, Uncategorized

As I think most people can agree with, public relations tends to observe many run ins with the law.  Many a times these cases are with big name celebrities or major corporations.  It is crucial to understand what is accecptable and what is not because no one wants to end up in the big courthouse.  Especially when writing news releases and other public information, it is important to make sure that it is all accurate.

One area of liability is called conspiracy. This can be used when a person does something such as bribing an official or covering up information of vital interest to public health and safety.  Also when they counsel or take part in an illegal activity.  Basically if he or she is participating in any activity that could be considered illegal; let’s say that it is best just to stay out of it.

Libel and defamation are two other sorts of misdeeds that are carefully monitored.  Libel is essentially a verbal staement that is false.  Defamation is a false statement about a person or organization that gives a negative and false understanding.  This can include:

  • communication through print, broadcast, or electronic media
  • the person is identifiable
  • there is injury in money loss, loss of reputation, or mental suffering (basically anything that can cause significant damage to the victim).
  • The person making the statement has malicious intentions

Invasion of privacy is another sensitive subject that can at times have a very fine line.  Public relations must be careful to information provided or insinuated in:

  • employee newsletters (newsworthiness is key)
  • photo releases (someone might contradict the accusing information)
  • product publicity and advertising (companies usually want a signed release to make sure that their product is advertised in the right light)
  • media inquiries about employees (do NOT provide personal information such as address, marital status, or salary)

These were just a few points that I found to be the most interesting a general because inderstanding the law will always be important in public relations.  This is because a lot of the information this field uses in public (hence the name) and it is important not to cross the line and end up in a court house.  Knowing your rights and others will allow everyone to at least be aware of what is acceptable and what is illegal.



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