What to Do When Lawyers Push Back on Your Marketing and Social Media

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

Social Media  |  Worst Practices  |  New Rules of Marketing and PR  |  Business to Business  |  Corporate blogging

lawyersAt many larger organizations (and some smaller ones too), the legal department is heavily involved in all marketing and communications initiatives, frequently requiring every blog post and press release to be vetted by a lawyer. Sometimes every social post too.

In some extremes, corporate legal eagles even forbid employees from starting a blog or video channel or participating on Twitter and Facebook at work.

I’ve found that the restrictions come down to two factors: ignorance of social media and a lack of trust in employees.

Since legal people typically don’t usually understand social media themselves (and don’t use social media for business or in their jobs), they naturally respond by just slapping on controls.

After all, their job is to reduce risks within a company, so it’s temptingly simple to just say “no”.

This is especially true in companies that mistrust their employees. However, if a company trusts its employees and understands that social media can be a powerful way to do business, then it is the lawyers’ job to create an environment where you can do what you know is right.

My recommendation is to work with your managers and your organization’s legal team (and perhaps the human resources department as well) to create simple guidelines that you can operate under. Your company’s guidelines should include advice about how to communicate in any medium, including face-to-face conversations, presentations at events, email, social media, online forums and chat rooms, and other forms of communication.

Rather than putting restrictions on social media (that is, the technology), it’s better to focus on the way people behave.

The best corporate guidelines aren’t long and restrictive. Instead, they typically include obvious things like that employees can’t reveal company secrets, can’t use inside information to trade stock or influence prices, and must be transparent and provide their real name and affiliation when communicating on social networks related to work.

New Rules of Marketing and PR