On Tuesday, July 30, a story came out that a reporter at a television station in Alabama was fired for what she posted on her personal blog. It immediately became another instance of: Is what you write on a personal blog really that personal?
To summarize, Shea Allen, the now-former investigative reporter for WAAY in Huntsville, did a blog post, titled, “No Apologies: Confessions of a Red Headed Reporter.” Ms. Allen states in the post that she has gone bra-less during a live broadcast and that she’s taken naps in the news car. You can read the rest of her post by clicking the link above. The post made waves with her station’s management and she was fired. The move made some wonder if this was a violation of Ms. Allen’s first amendment rights.
Reaction to the story has been mainly supportive on Twitter; the comments on her blog appear to be 60-40 in favor of what she wrote. Here’s where I say I understand the personal blog “boundaries,” but for a person in the public eye, it’s not so personal.
Ms. Allen was employed by WAAY, therefore she should have been a more careful in what she posted on her blog, even though it’s labeled as “personal.” We know way too well that despite saying in your Twitter bio “tweets are my own” or “tweets do not reflect my employer’s opinion,” if you say something that isn’t appropriate or can bring bad publicity to your employer, you are going to get in trouble. The same goes for a blog. Did WAAY have something in its contracts with employees that talked about social media or blogging? I’m not sure. In this age of social media and quick posting, it’s necessary to think first, then post.
However, I need to defend Ms. Allen because, unless the reports of previous reprimands are true, this shouldn’t have been a one strike and gone issue. Yes, she re-posted the blog after initially being asked to take it down. Are the things she posted a little out-of-bounds? Maybe. But she’s an award-winning journalist, was respected by her peers, and this certainly isn’t something like the Larry Mendte/Alicia Lane issue in Philadelphia back in 2008. There should have been a suspension, at the least.
This is a teachable moment for young reporters (and even young PR/social media pros): Just because it is labeled “personal,” what you put online (blog, social media, etc.), isn’t personal anymore. It’s public.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.
On Monday night, Feb. 18, various PR pros gathered for the HAPPO chat on Twitter. The HAPPO community are PR folks from around the country who help new and current pros with career guidance and information on the job market. HAPPO was co-founded by Arik Hanson and Valerie Simon in 2010 and, since then, has helped many a pro. I’m lucky to be part of HAPPO as Buffalo, N.Y.’s champion.
Monday night’s Twitter chat focused on how to build and sustain a mentor in public relations. I couldn’t have been more excited about this because I enjoy being a mentor to future and current pros. Whether it is a simple phone chat or reviewing a resume, your advice and guidance can be invaluable. What makes a good mentor? Here are my five things that I believe do.
1.) Trust- There’s no doubt that trust is the first one here. If you don’t trust your mentee or they don’t trust you, there’s no relationship. Understand that your actions (on both sides) will help shape the future. If you show a potential mentee that trust doesn’t matter, you’ve failed.
2.) Honesty- It doesn’t help you or your mentee if you just sugar coat everything. Be honest in your assessment of their resume, cover letter, approach to interviews, etc. Your mentee should want that honesty because it’s going to help them in the future.
3.) Make the time- If you agree to mentor someone, stick to it. Don’t say you’ll talk and then blow them off. It shows that not only are you disingenuous, but may also hurt your relationships with others.
4.) Touch base often- If I haven’t heard from a mentee or chatted in a few weeks, I’ll reach out with a short email, direct message or tweet. I never want a mentee to feel I’ve forgotten about them. It’s also a great way to see if your mentee may be struggling with anything.
5.) Think about the future- Your chats and resume reviews may end up being a great asset. As you continue the relationship, you’ll be able to (possibly) assist a colleague in filling a position or even a position in your own business.
Keep in mind you can not force a mentor/mentee relationship. It has to work on both sides!