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Caught on Camera: Your Employees and TV Appearances

Do you want to see your latest legal recruit on ‘Love Island’,  your paralegals having a blazing row on ‘Ex on the Beach,’ your solicitors singing drunk in a jacuzzi in the Big Brother house, your corporate lawyers checking into the ‘Ibiza Weekender’ hotel,  or how about one of the Partners dying on a date in the ‘First Dates’ restaurant?  No, we thought not.  The legal profession and reality TV has been flung into the spotlight with recent Love Island contestant Rosie Williams, and it has raised some interesting questions.

Reality TV is more popular than ever, and news programmes across the board are keen to garner the views of real people.  All this contributes to the diverse views and people we see on TV today, but TV appearances do have their risks. As an employer, you may be concerned about what your staff might say during this kind of TV appearance. Whether intentional or not, they may express views which don’t speak for the organisation as a whole, potentially damaging its reputation, not to mention the workplace dynamic. Here we run through some simple ways to prevent TV appearances spiralling into PR mayhem.

 

Consider preventing Appearances

If you have legitimate, business-related reasons for not wanting an employee to appear on TV, it’s important to set them out, concisely, in writing. If preventing an unwelcome appearance entirely is not possible, you may wish to ask that it is made explicit that the views expressed by the employee does not represent those of their organization. Clearly, employees have the right to a life outside of work, but if you believe an appearance could risk the company’s reputation, honestly sharing your concerns is an important step. In some cases, it may be appropriate to outline disciplinary action which would be taken if an employee transgressed TV appearance stipulations they had agreed to.

 

Implement a Media Policy

It might not occur to some employees to ask for permission before appearing on TV; their private lives are separate, after all. To ensure all employees are aware of the risks TV appearances could bring to the company, it is a good idea to outline a media policy, and distribute a copy to all new and current staff. Let staff know the standards they are expected to follow. The policy should cover issues such as whether permission should be sought for TV appearances, whether employees are permitted to mention their organization, and if so to what extent. Having a clear policy in place also means that, as an employer, you are in a better position to address issues if the policy is violated.

 

Mitigate any Damage

If the worst does happen – an employee makes comments on TV which are embarrassing, offensive, or detrimental to their employer – the situation can be handled far more smoothly when explicit expectations are in place. You will need to carry out disciplinary action in accordance with your media policy, to help prevent a similar problem from cropping up further down the road. If no clear guidelines were in place, but the appearance caused damage to your organisation’s reputation, it’s advisable to conduct a full investigation. Gather as much evidence as possible if disciplinary action is to be taken.

 

Find a Balance

The key to avoiding TV appearance mishaps is finding the balance between allowing employees privacy and freedom and implementing overly-complex or draconian policies. Having a clear and fair media policy, and letting all staff know about it, is the single best method for both preventing and dealing with these issues.

 

If you are looking to hire lawyers who won’t be seen parading around in their swimwear on ITV2 this summer, or you are looking for a role in a Law Practice which is not tainted by having an employee “fired” from the first episode of The Apprentice then contact Law Consultants today.  We focus on people and businesses that want to do law.  Not TV.

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