370 april 25 libel

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370 april 25 libel

  1. 1. JOURNALISM  370   APRIL  25,2011  LAW  AND  FEATURE  WRITING  
  2. 2. HOW  CAN  YOU  GET  SUED  •  Wri?ng  misleading  press  releases    •  Making  misleading  or  false  product/service   claims    •  Crea?ng  front  groups    •  Insider  trading    •  Invasion  of  privacy    •  Misrepresen?ng  earnings    •  Conspiracy  
  3. 3. REAL  WORLD  BACKGROUND  I  WISH     I  KNEW  WHEN  I  WAS  IN  SCHOOL  •  The  key  is  avoiding  lawsuits.  •  You  may  be  legally  correct.  It  might  not  maXer.  •  Lawsuits  are  costly…even  if  you  win.  •  Waivers  are  your  friend.  •  WriXen  correspondence  is  your  friend  •  When  in  doubt,  ask.  
  4. 4. Libel  and  Defama?on  •  Here’s  how  you  prove  it.   –  Statement  was  broadcast  or  published.   –  You  can  ID  who  wrote  it.   –  Actual  injury  occurred…that  includes  losing  cash.   –  Publisher  was  negligent  or  acted  with  malice.      
  5. 5. Libel  and  Defama?on  •  Different  proofs  required  for  “public  figures”  •  Corpora?ons  are  considered  public  figures  •  Truth  is  defense  against  defama?on  charge  
  6. 6. FAIR  COMMENT…   GET  OUT  OF  TROUBLE  CARD  •  Opinions  are  protected  as  long  as  cri?cism  is   done  with  honest  inten?on  and  a  lack  of   malice.    •  Protects  cri?cal  comments  of  execu?ves  •  Protect  yourself  when  wri?ng  cri?cism   –  Accompany  opinion  with  facts  on  which  it’s  based.   –  AXribute  quoted  opinion  to  an  individual   –  Review  context  of  surrounding  language  for   defama?on  
  7. 7. AVOIDING  DEFAMATION  SUITS  •  #1  rule:  Watch  your  language    •  Choose  innocuous  language  when  talking   about  personnel  issues     –  We  wish  them  well  in  their  future  endeavors.  •  Avoid  unflaXering  representa?ons  of   compe?tors  
  8. 8. INVASION  OF  PRIVACY  •  Employees  don’t  waive  their  right  to  privacy  •  Employee  newsleXers   –  Avoid  anything  that  might  embarrass  employees   –  Focus  on  organiza?on-­‐related  ac?vi?es  •  Photos  of  employees     –  Implied  consent  for  “news”  use,  not  promo?on   –  Maintain  photo  records  
  9. 9. INVASION  OF  PRIVACY  •  Use  of  photos/quotes  in  publicity  or  adver?sing   –  Need  signed  consent  to  use  photos  or  quotes  in  promo?onal   materials    •  Media  inquiries  about  employees   –  Only  provide  confirma?on  of  employment,  ?tle  and  job   descrip?on,  date  of  employment  beginning  and  end   –  Don’t  provide  address,  marital  status,  number  of  kids,  job   performance  or  salary   –  Serve  as  liaison  between  reporter  and  employee  •  Employee  blogs     –  Prohibit  comments  about  other  employees  and  confiden?al   product  informa?on     –  Employee  guidelines  for  virtual  online  communi?es  
  10. 10. COPYRIGHT  LAW  •  Protec?on  of  “fixed”  works  in  any  “tangible   medium.”  Yes,  this  includes  digital.    •  Work  is  automa?cally  copyrighted  the   moment  it  is  “fixed.”    •  Work  can  be  formally  copyrighted  through   Library  of  Congress,  but  registra?on  isn’t   required  for  protec?on    
  11. 11. COPYRIGHT  LAW   HOW  TO  BE  SAFE  •  Fair  use  allows  you  to  quote  part  of  a   copyrighted  ar?cle,  but  brief  enough  not  to   harm  the  original  work  •  Social  Media  makes  this  an  evolving  jungle.  •  When  in  doubt,  ask.  •  When  in  doubt,  have  a  waiver.  
  12. 12. COPYRIGHT  LAW   HOW  TO  BE  SAFE  •  You  can’t  copyright  ideas.  •  You  can  copyright  the  expression  of  those   ideas.  •  Copyright  your  PR  content.  That’s  why  you   hire  lawyers.  
  13. 13. COPYRIGHT  LAW  •  Fair  use   –  AXributed  quoted  material  that  is  brief  compared  to   the  en?re  work     –  Permission  required  when  used  for  promo?on.  •  Photography     –  Photographers  retain  ownership  of  their  work   –  Nego?ate  use  carefully    •  Work  for  hire   –  When  working  as  an  employee,  copyright  belongs  to   organiza?on    •  Digital  material  protected  by  copyright  
  14. 14. TRADEMARK  •  Trademark  is  a  word,  symbol,  or  slogan   iden?fying  a  product    •  Trademarks  are  proper  adjec?ves    •  Trademarks  should  not  be  pluralized  or  used   as  verbs    •  PR  plays  an  important  role  in  protec?ng   trademarks  •  Unauthorized  use  of  celebri?es  is   misappropria?on  of  personality  
  15. 15. PEOPLE  WHO  CAN  MAKE     YOUR  LIFE  MISERABLE  •  Federal  Trade  Commission  (FTC)     –  Regulates  adver?sing   –  Protects  consumer  from  decep?on     –  Look  for  unsubstan?ated  and  misleading  claims  
  16. 16. PEOPLE  WHO  CAN  MAKE     YOUR  LIFE  MISERABLE  •  Securi?es  and  Exchange  Commission  (SEC)   –  Monitors  publicly  traded  companies   –  Monitor  public  disclosure  and  insider  trading   –  Disclose  in  a  ?mely  fashion  anything  that  might   affect  stock  value  
  17. 17. PEOPLE  WHO  CAN  MAKE     YOUR  LIFE  MISERABLE  •  Federal  Communica?ons  Commission  (FCC)   –  Licenses  radio  and  TV  sta?ons     –  Assures  airwaves  are  used  in  public  interest   –  Ruled  on  VNRs    •  Food  and  Drug  Administra?on  (FDA)   –  Oversees  promo?on  of  drugs  and  cosme?cs     –  Provides  guidelines  for  publicity  on  health  care  •  Bureau  of  Alcohol,  Tobacco,  and  Firearms  (BATF)   Regulates  alcohol  promo?on  –  watch  claims   about  health  benefits  
  18. 18. LET’S  AVOID  A  LAWSUIT  •  You’re  doing  PR  for  Costco.    •  The  VP  has  just  been  fired  for  embezzling   money.  •  The  media  calls  you  asking  for  informa?on.  •  What  can  you  tell  them?  
  19. 19. LET’S  TALK  FEATURE  WRITING  
  20. 20. WHY  WRITE  A  FEATURE     IN  THE  FIRST  PLACE  •  Features  provide  addi?onal  background  •  Generate  human  interest  •  Create  understanding  in  an  imagina?ve  way  •  Features  are  more  sol  in  nature  and  not  as   ?me  sensi?ve    •  They  provide  more  informa?on,  a  behind-­‐the-­‐ scenes  perspec?ve,  and  generate  publicity  •  Features  get  more  focus  in  Sunday  papers.  
  21. 21. LET’S  PLAN  A  FEATURE  •  Is  the  subject  worth  a  feature?   –  The  subject  doesn’t  have  to  be  human  •  Will  it  be  useful  to  your  target  audience?    •  Does  it  meet  organiza?onal  objec?ves?       If  the  answer  to  any  of  these  ques0ons  is  no,   consider  another  wri0ng  style  
  22. 22. LET’S  PLAN  A  FEATURE  •  The  bad  news  is  developing  a  feature  requires   crea?vity  •  The  good  news  is  ideas  are  everywhere.  •  How  do  pitch  a  feature  can  be  different.   –  Distribute  a  general  feature  to  several  media   outlets     –  Write  an  exclusive  feature  and  pitch  to  a  single   person   –  Post  the  feature  on  your  Web  site  
  23. 23. TYPES  OF  FEATURES  •  Case  study  •  Third-­‐party  party  endorsement    •  Applica?on  story…How  to  use  a  product  or   service  in  a  new,  innova?ve  way    •  Research  study   –  Surveys  or  polls  that  examine  things  such  as   lifestyles  
  24. 24. TYPES  OF  FEATURES  •  Backgrounder   –  A  problem  and  how  it  was  solved    •  Personality  profile   –  Humanize  an  interes?ng  person  •  Historical  piece  •  Milestones  allow  reflec?on  on  an   organiza?on’s  history  
  25. 25. FEATURE  ELEMENTS  DIFFERENT   THAN  A  NEWS  RELEASE  •  Headline     –  Informa?onal  headlines  summarize   –  Allitera?ve  headlines  raise  curiosity     –  You  can  rely  more  in  emo?on  and  adjec?ves  •  Lead   –  Feature  leads  pique  readers’  interest     –  You  don’t  need  a  summary  lead   –  You  do  need  to  focus  on  what’s  most  important   –  What’s  most  important  may  not  be  facts    
  26. 26. FEATURE  ELEMENTS  DIFFERENT   THAN  A  NEWS  RELEASE  •  Body   –    Features  are  longer  than  straight  news  releases     –    They’re  meant  to  be  read  from  beginning  to  end   –    They  should  include  quotes,  illustra?ons  and   other  illustra?ve  elements   –     The  last  line  is  almost  as  important  as  the  first   line…      
  27. 27. FEATURE  ELEMENTS  DIFFERENT   THAN  A  NEWS  RELEASE  •  Placement   –  Newspapers,  especially  sec?ons  that  are  not  ?me-­‐ sensi?ve  (e.g.,  lifestyle,  food,  automo?ve)   –  Specialty  magazines  are  a  beXer  pitching  op?on.   –  Blogs  can  be     –  Because  a  feature  shelf  life  is  longer,  I  would  put   your  items  on  the  web.   –  Pay  to  play  publica?on    
  28. 28. Let’s  write  a  feature  lead  •  The  Florida  Grapefruit  Growers  Associa?on   has  announced  that  this  year’s  crop  is  larger   than  last  year’s,  and  greater  availability  will   mean  lower  prices  for  the  consumer.      
  29. 29. Let’s  write  a  feature  lead  •  The  na?onal  office  of  tourism  for  Canada  says   the  country  is  a  good  travel  bargain  because   the  Canadian  dollar  is  weak  against  the   American  dollar.      
  30. 30. LET’S  TALK  LETTERS  TO  EDTIOR    
  31. 31. WHY  WRITE  ONE?    •  Allow  PR  to  reach  opinion  leaders    •  Op-­‐ed  authors  are  perceived  as  experts  on  the   issue    •  Op-­‐eds  are  exclusives     OP-­‐eds  are  controlled  media.     This  is  rare  in  media  rela0ons  and  publicity  
  32. 32. WHY  WRITE  ONE?  •  These  can  talk  about  policy.  •  These  can  promote  events  more  blatantly.  •  You’re  worried  the  reporter  will  screw  the   story  up.   OP-­‐eds  are  controlled  media.     This  is  rare  in  media  rela0ons  and  publicity  
  33. 33. OP  ED  IDEAS  •  750  words  max  for  an  op  ed.  •  You  need  to  have  one  main  idea.  •  Hit  it  early,  and  don’t  veer  off  course.  •  Short  powerful  sentences  •  You  need  facts  to  verify  your  claims.  
  34. 34. OP  ED  IDEAS  •  Don’t  say,  “I  think.”  State  it.     –  I  thinks  this  is  a  bad  idea.   –  This  is  a  bad  idea.  •  Don’t  send  out  op  eds  in  bulk.  •  Do  call  an  editor  to  see  if  a  paper  takes  them.    
  35. 35. LETTER  TO  THE  EDITOR  DIFFERENCES  •  They  are  shorter  (200-­‐500  words)  •  You  react  to  news  and  should  state  what   sparked  the  leXer.  •  State  the  theme  of  your  leXer  aler  saying  why   you  are  wri?ng  •  A  leXer  to  the  editor  is  a  counter  punch.  An   Op  ed  can  be  an  aXacking  punch.  

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