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August 27, 2010
Hold 'Lunch and Learns' on Social Media
You know social media has arrived when big law firms are offering counsel on it and SM guidelines and triage charts start popping up on the Web. Mashable has pulled all this together in an excellent "How To" post on handling employee use of social media. 

This likely is to become an ever bigger area of PR awareness and involvement.

First, we're past the point when companies should try to prohibit employee use of social media. Block SM sites from the corporate network, and employees still have their smart phones to get "out there." Anyhow, social media sites should be places for listening and gauging what's happening in the marketplace as well as being present there. Increasingly, they will have that value. 

The smartest thing to do is to have a sensible, beneficial-to-all social media policy in place to share with employees. Mashable's post includes the neat idea of holding "lunch and learn" social media training sessions. It quotes Jennifer McClure, president of Unbridled Talent LLC: "If you're trying to figure out how to conduct social media training while minimizing cost, consider lunch and learn sessions. Order a few pizzas, grab a laptop, and show employees how to properly set up their accounts, post properly, and use privacy settings."

Above all, treat corporate objectives as matters that involve employees and continually share them with employees. Develop a corporate climate of mutual interest and regard, and employee use of social media will become less of a concern, because they will understand how everyone "in house" benefits from the organization being correctly represented and understood "out there."

Just because employees now can become part of your media climate is no reason at all to panic, but to lead and share the requirements for intelligent, rewarding use of social climate. Of course, there may be occasional upsets, and the Mashable post includes ways to handle them. But, first of all, recognize that employees are definitely part of a new, emerging media climate and help them function intelligently in everyone's best interests. That's not a platitude, but a platform for corporate progress.

Please pass the pizza.  

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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