It was inevitable, we suppose. The folks in those playful, exuberant scenes in which seemingly disconnected people in a town square, or Grand Central Station, coalesce into an energetic, evidently choreographed event — a crowdsourced occasion — have to consider whether they're acting legally, too. Because Flack Me covers virtually any aspect of public relations, we hereby note Jay Pinkert's post (he's with Shatterbox) advising that crowdsourcers are "courting new and unexpected legal risks — and a new legal niche." And he introduces us to Ruth Carter, an attorney specializing in "the law of flashmobs and pranks."
From one of the comments prompted by Jay's post, it's evident that PR colleagues specializing in event management have long been aware of, and following, the rules of civility in crowdsourcing events. But that's not likely everyone so engaged, we imagine.
Jay, as another commenter notes, does get more than a little whimsical when he notes that along with two human motivational desires discussed by Sigmund Freud — "Eros (the life drive) and Thanatos (the death drive)" — belongs a third one, "Viros (the drive to create viral videos)."
Anyhow, anyone considering joining in a crowdsourced event should be mindful of the legal implications of any misconduct therein, as well as what might be considered misconduct. A word to the wise, not to mention the capricious, is always worth providing.
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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