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Management Monday: Organisational reputation starts with policy (LG Comms Conference Manchester)

16 June 2014 | 12:41 am

As another successful LG Comms Academy (@LGComms) in Manchester draws to a close, our CEO James Leavesley (@leavesj) reflects on a discussion with David Banks (@DBanksy), a former journalist and trained lawyer.

The big debate at the conference was how hard organisations could come down (in disciplinary terms) on well meaning employees when it came to reputational damage in social media?

We discounted the obvious cases where disciplinary action was a given; disgruntled employee sharing with the world the shortcomings of the CEO; the sharing of confidential information etc.  Instead we focused on what some managers believed to be a ‘shade of grey’, i.e. where an employee inadvertently brought the reputation of an organisation into disrepute without intention to cause long term reputational damage.

We agreed that one of the underlying problems is that Local Authorities are grappling with the sheer volume of people involved in the delivery of their social media. Many of whom are not trained in social media or perhaps not even in communications per say, intensifying the risk of reputation damage from rogue or ill thought out messaging.

My conversation with David highlighted that these ‘well meaning, yet misguided mistakes’ could not only damage reputation, but also see the organisation end up in court!

Suddenly, at the mention of going legal, the wiggle room linked to going gently on an ill judged tweet seems less optional.

David highlighted that the starting point for an organisation in demonstrating due procedure had been undertaken, began with the social media policy.

It appears that more and more authorities are pulling together their social media policies and guidelines or should I say pulling them to pieces! The old policies that were put in place were reportedly written by lawyers or prepared by HR. The problem was that they were not user-friendly and tended to be confined to the bottom draw once employees had signed to say they agree with them.

More often than not, there is no policing or the policy lacks practical application, making it hard to reference to see if someone or something is complaint.

David implied that things are changing. These policies are becoming more practical by nature and a useful reference point for managers, teams and employees engaged in the social media efforts of an organisation.

This is where David Banks comes in. He can interpret these policies and turn them into easy to understand documents supported by practical training. A huge step forward I am sure you will agree?

The next question then turns to how these policies are policed and by whom? Is somebody somewhere checking all the social media accounts to make sure they do not breach the policies and ensure compliance? Is someone monitoring employees?

Wouldn't it be great to have a way of this being policed automatically, to ensure that before something is posted that it has passed a test and is compliant? Wouldn't it be great to hear about breaches by a member if staff when they happen and not via the grapevine?

Ok I’ll stop proving my point….. we do – it’s called CrowdControlHQ, the UK’s leading social media risk management and compliance platform! We know for sure that our clients get it. They understand the risks and have developed policies, processes and procedures to counter risk.

They reduce the chance of reputational damage by streamlining, training, automating controls and of course monitoring actions.

Fingers crossed that as a result of the conference, others are now waking up to the challenges and have a clear idea (thanks to David) of the starting point for action, starting with a review of their own social media policy to ensure that it not only caters for the now, but also for the evolving future.

One final point that I did also pick up on with interest was that David dismissed the "get out of jail card" that so many people place in their Bio; "these are my own views and not the views of my employer."

A subject for further debate?

James Leavesley, CEO, CrowdControlHQ