What Are the Legal Responsibilities for PR Writing?
So now we are at the ninth and final blog assignment for the semester…I can’t help but wonder where it went. Having such an extensive background in publishing, this topic should be second nature to me, but a refresher is always important for the complete learning experience. What three laws govern out work as PR Professionals?
- Defamation: Is a publication of a statement that could harm another person, company, group or brand’s reputation, (or any other legal entity), discredit them, or expose them to hatred, contempt or ridicule as a result of what you have said about them. There are two types of defamation that can occur: Slander and Libel. Slander is anything spoken in a public manner or setting that damages character or reputation of a person, brand or company. Whereas, Libel is anything written or broadcast, including words and/or images, portraying the party in a negative fashion that will harm their reputation
- Privacy: Invasion of privacy includes: appropriation, or commercial use of a name or photograph without obtaining consent, private information about an individual, be it their lifestyle, health or anything they wish to refrain from communicating as public knowledge, and intrusion, such as spying on someone. This piece is often used by gossip sources and often published with harmful intent to discredit celebrities or public figures by painting them in a bad light, so to speak. Being a celebrity or public figure, it is expected to have a reduced amount of privacy, however, they still have rights.
- Copyright/Plagiarism: Using copyrighted material and presenting as your own, instead of giving the creator of the original work credit for it. Types of copyright infringement and plagiarism include cover creations like books, films, songs, articles and essays, dissertations, photographs or anything else that’s original. There are some exceptions to using these works, under the guidelines that you can only use a portion of copyrighted material, that it isn’t taken out of context, that you credit the source you borrowed it from, academic research, and that you don’t exceed a certain percentage of it (eBooks, for example, no more than 20% for promotional purposes benefiting the author only.) Use of this material may not affect the market the original material was produced for in a negative way.
Having and maintaining strong, personal and professional ethics is integral in PR writing. From a sales perspective to using persuasion vs. manipulation to sell a product or a brand to the people under false pretenses, or publishing materials that are misleading or harmful in nature. Without integrity, we are nothing but scam artists in the face of public relations. I found an interesting article on Ethics and Legal Practices in PR.
One of my keywords in my own personal branding is integrity, and I will stand by this value in all of my public relations pursuits.
~Stay true to yourself, stay true to your brand.~