You’ll Never Walk Alone Because Everyone is Watching

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Always “On”

Do you remember when an ESPN on-air reporter was caught cursing out a tow truck company cashier?  It shouldn’t have made news, but it did. That’s because her outburst was captured on a surveillance camera and a video of the incident soon went viral.

You also never know who might be watching and recording your every move with one of the popular but now defunct streaming video apps such as Periscope or Meerkat, owned by Twitter.

You’re Always “On”

Just a few years ago you could expect a measure of privacy in your personal life. But now you are at risk of being caught by a surveillance camera or by an amateur filmmaker recording your every move – on the street, in the rest room of a restaurant or at your place of business. Following her infamous tirade, McHenry was suspended without pay for a week and returned to her job just two days later.

It’s a sad fact of life that there isn’t any separation between your business and personal lives. You’ve always got to be “on.” You represent your company 24/7. Be aware of what you’re saying and what you’re wearing because you never know when a video of you, taken surreptitiously, will show up on YouTube or in a tweet.

You certainly don’t want to be caught bad-mouthing your company or a colleague. If you’re a company spokesperson, everything you say is on the record, even when you’re not working.

The ESPN sideline reporter, Britt McHenry, learned this the hard way. She wasn’t on the job, and yet her company suspended her for a week without pay. As a public figure, who appears regularly on TV, she is the face of her organization anywhere, anytime. We should all learn from this cautionary tale.

The Open Microphone

We always urge our clients to be careful of what they say before and after a media interview. Even the pleasantries you exchange with a reporter before the start of the session could appear in print or on TV.

Don’t start making asides to your PR person as you leave the interview complaining about the interviewer or boasting, “well, we dodged a bullet there.” That’s just the kind of juicy quote that will come back to you haunt you.

You need to be on guard even at private events where you feel you have a zone of privacy. Gov. Mitt Romney discovered this after he spoke to a group of potential donors.

Someone in attendance captured him on camera making these remarks that severely damaged his Presidential campaign:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what…who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them…these are people who pay no income tax….my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

The Legal Pitfalls

If you’re using Periscope or Meerkat, be aware that you don’t have carte blanche to record anything you want. There are legal pitfalls.

You can be sued if you infringe on copyrights. HBO sent takedown notices to Periscope after some of its users were caught streaming the fifth-season premiere of Game of Thrones. Within the first three hours, several episodes were downloaded more than 100,000 times.

Just imagine how you would feel if a video of you swearing at a store clerk or bad-mouthing a client went viral. Think of the consequences.

Always be aware that you never know who’s lurking around the corner waiting to record you in an unguarded moment and sending it viral in a matter of seconds.

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