When Jesse Torres, CEO of the Pan American Bank in Los Angeles, asked if I'd like to see a copy of his new book, Human Resources Guide to Social Media Risks (2011), I said "yes," and right away, because it's a subject that I knew almost nothing about. Of course I've warned my students about the importance of organizations having a social media policy, told them to check with employers before blogging or tweeting about jobs or internships, and explained (thoroughly) how important it is for them to be careful what they post when they're searching for jobs.
But that's about all I knew.
In reading Torres's quick (about 50 page) primer, I learned a lot more. Based on the assumption that "all organizations, regardless of their involvement in social media activities, are subject to social media risks in the workplace," the book walks through the basics of social media from a human resources management perspective.
The book begins with a quick review of social media tools for people working in HR who may not be familiar with social media in all its variety. It then discusses three main areas of concern: using social media for recruitment--he suggests stating that background checks may include review of publicly-available information (and then sticking to what's publicly available); employee use of social media -- including challenges like loss of employee productivity and disclosure of confidential information, among several other topics -- this section is the lengthiest in the book; and social media-based terminations. At the end of this chapter, Torres provides a list of action items for HR managers for all three areas of concern.
The book includes a bibliography with references to blogs, trade publications, and news media discussions of case studies and legal actions that would be helpful to anyone in human resources -- but also to employees engaging in social media and to organizational social media experts who may understand the tools but not their HR consequences.
I skimmed through this book in about half an hour and would recommend it to educators, students and professionals who would like a clearly written introduction to the HR implications of organizational uses of social media.
Spent some time preparing a massive lecture on law this week for my PR writing class. Copyright, privacy, insider trading, and trademarks, just to name a few areas of concern.
Then there's working with lawyers. My UGA colleague, Bryan Reber, contributed to some research on the relationship between PRs and attorneys and found that "they" appreciate "us" more than you might think. In fact, the attorneys more accurately predicted PR responses than vice versa.
Would love to hear from the real world about how PRs and lawyers work together (or don't), in the comments or by e-mail. Just try not to defame anybody in the process....