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February 28, 2011 / The_Mike_Johnson

IABC New York Panel:When Publicly-Held Companies’ Free-Wheeling Social Media Collides with Disclosure Policies

Left to right: Gil Wolchock, Kate Bird, Alice Cherry, Paul Dalessio.

I attended the first 2011 New York chapter of International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) panel of the year (at least for me) called, “When Publicly-Held Companies’ Free-Wheeling Social Media Collides with Disclosure  Policies.” The panel had been described as: “When employees disclose “material information” via Social Media, it puts the company in legal jeopardy from a range of potential litigants, including investors, regulatory agencies and even competitors. Unintended disclosures could force an early release or re-statement of earnings, resulting in media barrages, investor calls, and even investigation by the Securities Exchange Commission. How can you minimize the risks of social media while benefitting from its use? Learn from a panel of experts from global, publicly held corporations how to shape your employee communications and disclosure policies to maximize the benefits of social media while minimizing risk.”

The panel featured:

Alice began by telling the story of being approached by her employer in February 2010 to create a social media policy that would protect employees (and the company as well), so she headed up a communications committee that also included the staff lawyers so a friendly language policy could be created. The result: a two-page social media policy explaining what employees could and could not do on Facebook and Twitter.

Kate explained that  for social media and pharma there is a natural disconnect, and the industry is waiting for guidance from the Food and Drug Administration for social media guidelines. Pharmaceutical companies  cannot discuss their products or allow commentary,  and if there are any adverse drug reactions to their products must be reported. Also the one hundred forty  character space of Twitter is too limiting for brand building.

For the AT&T brand Paul is constantly interacting with customers, and all customer comments/contributions are monitored on all social media channels twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You find those fans and consumers that love what AT&T is doing by communicating with them on a one to one basis. The agency also talks to the AT&T haters and explains AT&T’s position and policy to turn those haters into supporters. Paul also added that Twitter serves as a canary in the coal mine to detect any service outages where customer care can monitor and update to provide customers with any information.

In closing Gil, the moderator asked, “What is the best thing that your organization is doing in the social media realm?”

Paul explained that AT&T had been putting up product information prior to official release but that information was being leaked to websites such as Boy Genius Report and Engadget, so the cat was out of the bag two weeks before announcement. To combat that AT&T would do an unboxed video that enabled fans to get a peek behind the curtain of an upcoming product.

For Alice she spoke about when McGraw-Hill was about publish a book by John Wooden  when he suddenly passed away two weeks prior to the release. So the online team launched a social media campaign that drove the community on Facebook and created an awareness of John Wooden and his words, not just marketing.

You can follow Kate Bird on Twitter @katebird.

You can follow Alice Cherry on Twitter @thealicecherry.

You can follow Paul Dalessio on Twitter @pauldalessio.

You can follow Gil Wolchock on Twitter @gilwolchock.


You may also be interested in these posts:

Allison Fine and Beth Kanter The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting with Social Media to Drive Change

Gary Vaynerchuk and The Thank You Economy

Gary Vaynerchuk and Robert Scoble Discuss Business and Social Media

Ray Jordan on Johnson & Johnson’s Social Media Strategy

The NBA’s Social Media Game

JetBlue’s Social Media Strategy with Jenny Dervin

David Meerman Scott, Author of Real-Time Marketing and PR

John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine



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