At Spotlight Publicity we help clients determine their short and long term goals, and then create a distinct promotional campaign to assist in achieving those goals through comprehensive publicity services. We personalize our services to meet with each client's time, availability, and budget. We are dedicated to maximizing media exposure, promoting the success and furthering the endeavors of businesses and artists.
Eight out of every ten Americans have a social media
presence. Facebook is the most common, but the percentage of adults using
Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter is gradually rising. For employers
this means the ability to vet potential employees recent activities online, in
addition to a standard criminal background check. This practice is called social media screening.
Looking into potential employees using social networks is
beneficial during the hiring process, although there is a fine line of legality
in doing so. You must know how to approach investigating a potential employee’s
social networks without violating their rights and privacy.
Firstly, you should only examine publicly shared content.
Never friend or request to follow a candidate. Look at the information they
have shared publicly to avoid violating their privacy.
BE AWARE OF THE LAW
Each state has different laws when it comes to what you can
and can’t do online. Identify your state’s laws in order to understand your
limitations when it comes to vetting job applicants over the Internet.
Federally, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is a law you should be aware
of. The CFAA regulates what information you can legally access on the net. For
example, you cannot gain access to private information like passwords without
Equal employment opportunity issues can arise when viewing a
potential candidate’s online profile. Viewing a public picture can give insight
to things like race or political views. These are things candidates may not
want to disclose, and legally can’t be taken into consideration during the
hiring process. In 2010 the University of Kentucky learned this the hard way.
The university found a candidate’s religious views online and took them into
account when turning him down for a job. Kentucky argued that his “religious
views on evolution would compromise his role as a scientist.” Ultimately, the
victim of this unlawful social media screening received a six-figure settlement
from the university
Here are some lawful reasons to reject an employee based on
their social media:
According to the Society for Human Resource Management
(SHRM), 43% of organizations surveyed said they use the Internet to screen
potential employees. This practice is here to stay as the social media
landscape is dominated by millennials, a major up and coming workplace
Another important thing to consider when social media
screening is which networks you’re looking at. You should avoid screening
Facebook for one candidate, and Twitter for another. It is best practice to
search the same social media sites for each potential employee. Note, before
using social media to screen a candidate you should have a social media
screening policy in place. This policy should include information about when
the applicant screening should take place in the hiring process, who’s doing
the screening, and how to handle your findings.
Here’s some basic info on how to utilize social media screening for applicants:
Usually Facebook profiles are fairly private. For the most
part you can view a profile picture and some public comments, so don’t go
further than that. Keep your search to what you can publicly see, and
definitely avoid friend requesting the applicant in an effort to dig deeper.
Twitter is a toss up. Profiles can be either public or
private. If a candidate’s Twitter is private you are able to view their profile
picture and possibly some descriptive information. If their profile is public
you are able to see every tweet they’ve ever made, including retweets, and all
the tweets they’ve liked. A public Twitter profile can be very revealing, and
should be a focal point of your social media screening practice.
Like Twitter, Instagram accounts can either be public or
private. Private accounts offer a small view of the profile picture and a
possible short description. Public accounts allow you to see all the pictures a
person has posted and the pictures they’ve been tagged in. Instagram is another
valuable social media screening tool, but remember not to take into account
things like gender, race, religion, political views, disability etc.
If you’re unaware, LikedIn is essentially Facebook for
professionals. It is very uncommon to find inappropriate material on a
candidate’s LinkedIn, but the site is great to screen for professionalism.
Grammatical mistakes, for example, are a fair reason to disqualify a candidate.
In the event that you find something questionable during a candidate’s social media screening, it is often in your company’s best interest to allow
a candidate to explain him or herself. You don’t want to lose a good candidate
because of a potential fake profile or unsolicited comment their friend made.
Give them a chance to illuminate on your findings. If you do decide to turn
down a candidate for something you’ve found on social media, make a record of
it. That way you’ll have evidence in the unfortunate event that the rejected
candidate takes you to court. They can delete what you may have found, so play
it safe and take a screenshot for your personal records.
OUTSOURCE SOCIAL MEDIA SCREENING
Taking the aforementioned precautions and information into
account should allow you to successfully screen potential employees on social
media; however, outsourcing your screen to an organization that specializes in
employment screening is the smartest option if you can afford it. Companies
or ESS will look into a
candidate’s background, including their social media history.
these are equipped to obtain all relevant and lawfully available information on
your candidate. Utilizing an employment-screening firm removes bias from the
equation, and is probably the best option if it is within your means.
In today’s world social media screening is an imperative
part of the hiring process. Whether you do it yourself or outsource it, you
don’t want to find out that someone makes inappropriate posts online after you
hire them. Don’t hire an unprofessional “professional”.
With limited resources, small business owners face the
unique challenges of avoiding bad press coverage and handling negative
publicity. These challenges can seem daunting, but managing them isn’t as hard
as you think.
Preparing ahead of time makes all the difference when limiting bad press. Simple steps can be taken to lower your
risk of receiving undesirable media attention. In this day and age social media
gives everybody a voice, and even the smallest businesses are likely to receive negative publicity. Learning how to deal with this is critical to
your livelihood and longevity.
Fake news. We’ve seen a lot of it lately, and for a small
company it can be absolutely devastating. When it comes to bad press coverage,
being ahead of the curve is crucial. Having a policy in place for social media
usage is key. Training your employees in media relations is necessary. Every
employee has a voice that can negatively or positively impact your business.
Be forward thinking. Instead of allowing bad press to occur,
generate your own good press. Go into the community and present what your
business has to offer. Share the positive and progressive values which you
Word of mouth is also a great resource for small businesses
with a limited marketing budget. The idea here is to turn your customers into
brand ambassadors who will promote your brand to their networks.
Whoever came up with the saying “There’s no such thing as
bad publicity,” probably wasn’t a small business owner. Large firms like
Volkswagen or United Airlines have faced a boatload of negative publicity
recently. And they’ve been able to bounce back from this with relative ease due
to their extensive customer service and marketing budgets. Small companies
simply do not have these luxuries, and must use alternative, more cost
effective methods to cope with negative publicity.
Used well, social media can be a primary tool for
representing your company and responding to customer complaints. Today, over
81% of Americans have a social media presence. This is an over 3x increase from
ten years ago, and this huge market can be tapped for little to no cost.
Spreading your message through social media content or low-cost paid ads are
proactive ways to generate good publicity. However, as a business owner you’re
likely to face some sort of backlash online. Knowing how to deal with this is
When it comes to responding to negative publicity on social
media, you must learn how to distinguish genuine criticism and complaints from
trolls trying to get a reaction. If the issue is not very serious no response
is necessary, but that doesn’t mean not responding is the best option. Not responding
won’t actively bring negative publicity to your company, but negative comments
from customers can spread like a wildfire online. And speaking of fire, you
don’t want to start a flame war with a customer. If you’re going to respond be
decisive, transparent, and have the customer’s interests in mind first and
foremost. Your response to it is a great opportunity to show the world what
your company’s really about.
As a business owner, bad press and publicity can be
difficult. Being prepared and knowing how to respond is essential in order to
avoid a PR nightmare.
For more information about dealing with bad press and negative social media experiences, contact Spotlight Publicity for a free consultation today.
We love your feedback and comments- please share your experiences with positive and negative publicity in the comments below.