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Public Relations and Social Media (by Marlon Wong Granados)


Every business interacts with a variety of publics: consumers, the general public, the financial community, the organizations’ employees, government, the media, suppliers, and many others. Public relations is the process by which the relationships with each to these publics is managed.” --- Reid and Bojanic, in Hospitality Marketing Management (2010, p. 492).

Just recently at my workplace, there was an incident regarding one of my coworkers. It turns out that he used Facebook’s personal messaging system as a medium to exchange harsh words with another person. This person was not in any way connected to our company, but after finding out where my coworker worked through my coworker’s Facebook profile, this person decided to post on our company’s public Facebook profile what my coworker had said to them for anyone to see. It appeared that my coworker said things that were not nice; and even though he thought he was having a private conversation via personal messaging with this person, this person exposed publicly what was said. The person also accused our workplace of hiring a person that was disrespectful and crass. The incident was handled by management, in essence it was a minor job in public relations, and as such the post was deleted, the person contacted by management, and after conducting an investigation, my workplace decided that my coworker must be let go.

This incident first made me think about our first amendment --- our freedom of speech. While my coworker said disrespectful words, was it right for the other person involved to accuse him at his workplace, to expose him on the company’s Facebook profile? Was it the correct decision for the company to let my coworker go? Secondly, I thought of the issue of public relations for company. A company’s public relations team might be an external company or it could just be an owner or a manager. Nowadays, companies should provide guidelines in employee manuals that refer to social media use, especially usage regarding the company. Even in the mentioned incident, where the private discussion was not about anything related to the company, the way someone projects themselves when speaking to another person, regardless of the medium, can be measured against the values of a company. While our company did have social media guidelines regarding the use of these tools concerning the company itself, and while there was nothing explicitly mentioned on the employee handbook about conducting oneself appropriately when speaking to other people outside of work, it was implied in our manual that we must conduct ourselves professionally in and out of work.

In the early days of Facebook, I wouldn’t think twice about posting any kind of status update, much less what I wrote in a personal message. In those days, while we still valued anonymity and privacy, as a society we were slowly changing. There was no Instagram or Yelp, and most people remained anonymous through nicknames and online handles. With the advent of social media sites, starting with Myspace, social media began to change. We started posting selfies, carefully manicuring our personal profiles, and increasingly communicating with one another online. Facebook came along and at first it was a college student only website. With the expansion of Facebook to encompass anyone in the world, including our parents and bosses, there were some issues that we began to deal with. 

Do we have to self-censor nowadays? If we do, does it inhibit part of our personality? What can companies do to protect themselves from incidents such as my coworker’s? As future managers, we will have to deal with issues such as this, and we must learn how to handle them effectively.

About the Author


Marlon Wong-Granados is a transfer student and Hospitality Management major at Cal Poly Pomona. His focus is on Restaurant Management. His ultimate goal is to be a restaurant operator and make a positive impact in the restaurant industry. He enjoys food, soccer, boxing, and travel.


References

Reid, R.D. and Bojanic, D.C. (2010). Hospitality Marketing Management (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 

The picture was downloaded from the TopRankBlog.com 

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