Heads Up Corps, Be Careful How You Blog…

Because starting May 26th, you could be arrested and thrown in the dock in the United Kingdom for misrepresenting your company as a consumer (Walmarting Across America comes to mind here).

The legislation is already in practice in Europe, the UK is just getting into the act a little (fashionably ?) late.  On one hand this can be good because it’s going to cut down on the amount of BS astroturfing that companies and their PR firms do.  It’s a kind-of enforced authenticity.

Is this a good thing?  Isn’t it better if people know that a company isn’t communicating authentically of their own accords?  The press, and other bloggers, are more than happy to shine a light on the astroturfing efforts of those corporations and PR firms.  Isn’t that the way it should be?  Online news organizations, like the newly created New Mexico Independent or well-established PR Watch, are sprouting up to watchdog various organizations and report the news without fear or favor (if not partisanship).

And another question I’d like to ask is, for activist groups throughout Great Britain – do these rules apply for them as well?  Will the same group of activists who misrepresent themselves as a greater number of people (think about the blogger equivalent of a phone bank calling talk radio shows to comment) be subject to the same rules and punishment?  Ad Age explains the law as applying to “Brand Owners” and Greenpeace, or the Sierra Club, or the Christian Coalition, or Wake Up Walmart are all brands and should be subject to those laws as well.  All things being fair and all that.

What this means is that companies and organizations should be authentic and true in their online communications.  A lesson to corporations, activists and PR firms around the world: if you represent themselves truthfully when dealing with online and social media communities, they can avoid a lot, if not almost all of, these kinds of problems.

It will be interesting to watch Great Britain in the upcoming months and see what happens.

Hat Tip: Ad Age

Author: Benson Hendrix

Benson Hendrix, APR has been called everything from a “social media zen warrior” to the ” ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper of Public Relations,” and from a “behind the scenes powerbroker,” to “the loudmouth PR love child of Henry Rollins and Anthony Bourdain,” but doesn’t really believe any of it (except maybe the “Rowdy” Roddy Piper part). Hendrix is the Social Media Manager for the University of New Mexico and loves helping organizations and people tell the stories that are important to them. He is also an adjunct social media instructor at the University of New Mexico, and the Social Media Strategist for TEDxABQ. In the few minutes a week he calls "spare time," he relaxes with his wife and chases his dream to be a better photographer.

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