Westchester NY Public Relations Firm Owner Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group “Face of Social Media & Media Relations” in Westchester Magazine.
Westchester NY Public Relations Firm Owner Kris Ruby of Ruby Media Group “Face of Social Media & Media Relations” in Westchester Magazine.
Social media seems like fun and games—until it isn’t. There are many legal mistakes that small business owners make daily on social media. Most of the time, they are lucky enough to get away with them. But as the FTC continues to crack down on influencer marketing and sponsored posts, more people are paying attention to what they are posting. If your social media agency isn’t trained in the legal ramifications of social media activity, you can still be held liable if the posting is done from your account. I spoke with three leading social media attorneys for a rundown on the legal mistakes you are making on social media and how to avoid them.
1. Not understanding copyright law. Photographs are protected by copyright law, but it is often difficult to ascertain who owns the copyright to the photograph. Is it the photographer? The person who posted the photograph? Or the person shown in the photograph? It could be any of the above. New York-based Advertising Law attorney Kyle-Beth Hilfer says user-generated content from consumers can expose a company to legal liability for embedded intellectual property infringement. “When using photographs on Instagram for commercial purposes, the poster should make sure that it has the proper licenses to the photograph. This is easy if you’ve taken the photograph yourself and post it directly to your own account. It’s often more difficult to ascertain who owns the copyright to a photograph that you are taking from elsewhere. You also want to make sure that you have appropriate releases from anyone shown in the photograph so their rights of privacy/publicity are not violated.”
2. Regramming without attribution. Thinking of regramming a photo a customer took at your restaurant? Be sure to provide proper regram credit and attribution. “Regramming a photo with attribution may be acceptable, but it may not. If there is a creative commons license attached to the photo that allows for use with attribution, that’s great. But more often, the content on Instagram isn’t sourced by these apps with this in mind. Giving attribution mitigates against copyright infringement damages, but it doesn’t completely solve the problem,” says Hilfer. She adds that brands using Instagram should also develop internal content curation guidelines that account for risk in a variety of different categories.
3. Failure to properly disclose influencer marketing campaigns. Business owners should be aware of recent FTC guidance urging transparency on Instagram. In April, the FTC sent over 90 letters to companies, celebrities and other social media users reminding them of the legal requirements for clarity in influencer marketing. According to Hilfer, endorsers must disclose their material connections to the brand. The federal agency offered specific guidance on how to do that. For example, any disclosure should be placed before the “more” button since many consumers will not click through. In addition, the FTC warned that certain kinds of hashtags would not be clear disclosures. Marketers should work with their legal teams to ensure that influencers, whether they be employees or third parties, make proper disclosures on Instagram and any other social media platform. Penalties for violating FTC guidelines have ranged from $20-$50,000 with a range of other requirements for compliance. The FTC can pursue legal action against both the brand and the influencer.
4. Improper formatting of sponsored posts. The FTC has cracked down on influencer marketing campaigns, including the exact formatting of these posts. According to Hilfer, the mere presence of a disclosure may not be enough to satisfy the FTC. If the post contains multiple hashtags, links or tags, you must separate the legal disclosures to make sure they are clear and conspicuous. “If an influencer includes ‘Thanks [Brand]’ or #sp or #partner, these notations may not clearly indicate to the consumer that the post is sponsored. You have to put yourself in the mindset of the consumer seeing the post,” said Hilfer. While the FTC has been clear that there are many acceptable ways to make disclosures, it explains that any term that has many interpretations will not provide the appropriate clarity.
5. Assuming your social media agency understands legal. Your social media agency is probably amazing at the creative work they do. But unless they have substantially invested in legal training, chances are they are not well versed in what could get your business in hot water. It is incumbent upon brands to make sure they are working with agencies who are cognizant of the law. For example, if a mistake is made on your company’s social media, is it clearly outlined that the agency will take the legal and financial responsibility for the risk? Or are you assuming the risk? “Not having appropriate contracts when working with third party content creators is one of the biggest mistakes I see,” says Social Media Attorney Ruth Carter of Venjuris. “In many cases, unless the contract states otherwise, the creator retains ownership of the copyright in their work, and if the hiring party wants to acquire it, they will likely have to pay for it. Additionally, I recommend that the hiring party have an indemnification clause to protect them if they are accused of intellectual property infringement or other wrongdoing because of the content provided by the third-party creator.”
6. Fake testimonials. Testimonials are great for building trusted authority as an expert. However, they can also land you in hot water with regulators who are watching out for fake testimonials on social media. According to Hilfer, “State attorney generals are enforcing laws against this practice, known as astroturfing. In New York, fines resulting from such investigations have been up to $50,000. In one case, the state settled for $100,000 with a brand that had instructed its ad agencies to post fake reviews online. Influencer marketing can have expensive legal ramifications for a brand if done improperly.”
7. Not reading the terms of service. For any social media platform, check the rules in their terms of service. The legal ramifications vary on each social platform. Many social media sites’ TOS state that you agree to only post images for which you own the copyright or for which you have permission to post. “The terms may state that by posting an image, you give other users permission to share the image on their profiles on that platform (ex. sharing on Facebook.) If you want to use the image of another person in your Facebook ad campaign, be sure to familiarize yourself with the applicable state laws on a person’s rights to publicize their image,” said Carter.
8. Reusing someone else’s license to a purchased stock photo. You found the image you were about to purchase on iStock through Google images (for free!). You directly pull the image onto your desktop and upload it into your content queue for the week. However, this mistake can be costly. According to Carter, you can only use images that you’ve received permission from the copyright holder, either directly or via a license like Creative Commons. “For iStock photos, read the license the person purchased. Your use must comply with the limits of that license. If your third-party creator bought the license, make sure it allows you to use it without having to buy your own license. Many of the agreements between independent contractors and the hiring party state that the contractor isn’t the company’s agent, so they can’t make purchases for the company. Unless the license for the image is transferable, the company has to buy their own license unless the terms of the license state that the agent’s license is sufficient,” says Carter. If you want to use an iStock image, buy your own license and avoid the risk.
9. Not having an internal social media policy. As personal branding and social media become more ingrained in our society, it is imperative to have a social media policy and a promotional clause as part of your employment agreements. For example, if your employee is promoting herself as an expert in the same line of work that you are in, is this a conflict of interest or is it acceptable? If the employee is using social media (LinkedIn) to pursue outside job opportunities while on the clock, are you protected? If the employee builds a substantial following on social media while working for your organization, who owns the rights to this fan base? Many business owners don’t anticipate these issues, and the hiring and firing surrounding these issues can often result in wrongful termination lawsuits. Adam Katz, an employment law and commercial litigation attorney at Golderg Segalla, says that most employers don’t realize they can be held liable if they terminate employees for certain posts and social media activity pertaining to salary and other work conditions. “An employee can bring a lawsuit for wrongful termination and discrimination if they believe they were fired for something that a supervisor saw on social media but otherwise would not have known.” Katz emphasizes that employers need carefully tailored social media policies that limit a supervisor’s social media activity with employees. “A good policy will state that while employees are allowed to associate themselves with the company when posting, they must clearly brand their online posts as purely their own. Additionally, the policy should make provisions for reviews and editorial rights of all posts or blog entries that reference or pertain to the business of the company. The social media policy should also prohibit employees from using derogatory words and racial slurs and from divulging confidential company information such as design plans, internal operations and legal matters,” says Katz.
10. Pulling content from Google Images. Many small business owners do not have subscriptions to iStock or Shutterstock, so they pull whatever they can find from Google Images. However, Google Images is not a free library. This mistake can be extremely costly. Not only will you incur legal fees if the originator of the content decides to come after you, you also may be liable for treble damages under copyright law. “Possession does not yield copyright ownership. There is no 10 percent or 20 percent rule that allows one to take a certain percent of content and use it without a license. This is particularly the case for commercial purposes. The fair use defense requires significant legal analysis. It may not be available, depending on the facts of each case,” explains Hilfer.
11. Not budgeting for legal recourse. Posting on social media may be free, but paying the fees associated with a lawsuit spurned by social media gone wrong is anything but that. According to the experts, social media lawsuits can cost small business owners upwards of $100,000. Many small business owners do not budget for the cost of an attorney if something goes awry with their marketing campaign. “Suing for infringement is complicated, and you have to be ready to front the costs of litigation, even if you’re in a situation where you are likely to be awarded attorney’s fees if you win. If the other side doesn’t have money, you may never collect, and you still have to pay your lawyer. For many people, sending a cease and desist or a DMCA takedown notice is the more effective and cost efficient way to proceed,” says Carter.
12. Making employees promote your company on their personal social media profiles. As a small business owner, your employees are a critical component of your social media strategy. After all, the millennial in your office has way more Facebook friends than you and can definitely increase engagement on your posts, right? Wrong! According to Carter, there is a big difference between making content available for employees to post on their social media profiles if they want to and requiring them to do so. Carter explains, “The former may be permissible; the latter is not. Review the terms of the social media platform where you want employees to promote the company. The platform may forbid people to use their personal accounts to promote a business.” Next time you want to terminate an employee for not complying with your request to promote the business on social media, understand they may be able to bring up an actionable claim against you. If they suspect they are being asked to violate the terms of the platform, they can report their employer to their state’s Department of Labor or the Attorney General’s Office.
13. Running a social media sweepstakes without legal clearance. Everyone loves to win a prize, and involving your followers on social media in spreading the word about your product is great publicity. But running a sweepstakes or contest on social media without understanding the legal issues can cause big problems. In fact, sweepstakes and contests consistently rank in the FTC’s annual top ten list of consumer complaints. And regulators are watching how brands implement them closely. Hilfer explains, “Social media sweepstakes raise legal issues with gambling and lottery laws. Often, brands forget about drafting rules. Or they take form rules that don’t cover them adequately. Refer a friend, text to enter, public judging: all these mechanisms have legal implications that can make your giveaway illegal.” In addition, even if you’ve done everything correctly to set up the promotions structure and draft rules, your marketing messages promoting the game can still get you in trouble. The FTC has numerous guidelines that affect how you spread word about your prize promotion, and the various state attorneys general enforce state laws that mirror the federal rules. According to Hilfer, “You will want your marketing teams advertising and promotion of the game to match up with the legal rules. This often means crafting disclosures in space-constrained posts. Ideally, marketing teams will plan ahead and work hand in hand with legal counsel to pre-approve messages.”
Don’t assume you understand the legalities of social media. Read the applicable terms of service and work with an attorney to understand the legal ramifications before clicking post.
Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a Public Relations and Social Media Agency. Kris Ruby is a frequent on air TV commentator and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit www.rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com
Congratulations! A reporter wants to include you in a story. Whether it’s because your site is optimized or you’re highly visible on social media, a journalist has found you and is interested in writing about your business. However, a journalist finding you is just the starting point. Every word you say to a reporter from the second they reach out to you until the story goes live matters.
Here are the 10 most common ways to annoy a journalist and risk getting cut from a story.
When you are communicating with journalists, remember to be appreciative. Journalists work hard to put together stories. Many of the journalists today are contributing writers for publications, in addition to having full-time jobs (such as myself). Journalists are very aware of the promotion you’re getting (for free) by being included in a story. Having a basic understanding of this dichotomy will take you far. If you are lucky enough to be included in a story, follow these tips and don’t blow it! If you make these mistakes, don’t be surprised if you “die on the chopping block floor” as the old saying goes.
Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a public relations and social media agency. Ruby is a frequent on air TV commentator and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit rubymediagroup.com or krisruby.com
Ruby Media Group CEO Kris Ruby in 914INC. Magazine Faces of Westchester Business 2017- “Face of Social Media”
Read the full article here
“Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have become cheap, effective ways to advertise and build personal connections with customers — and for many businesses, tweeting and blogging are no longer optional tools for generating buzz. As such, the rising importance of social networking as part of anymarketing plan has brought about a new demand for online-savvy freelancers who know how to effectively write and distribute business communiques at a rapid pace.
Because of its speed and simplicity, Twitter — the popular microblogging service started by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams and Biz Stone in 2006 — has become a preferred option for many companies. While some hire social-media gurus in-house, others are enlisting the help of a growing corps of freelancers who have taken advantage of an emerging market for independent “tweeters” and have built lucrative businesses on the art of the 140 character burst.
Ruby notes that the market for freelance social media experts is so strong because Web 2.0’s cheap, highly personalized marketing techniques have made traditional marketing plans obsolete. “Social media has evolved into a cost-effective strategy in reaching out to targeted audiences and beyond. The key to social media is to identify your target audience beforehand and engage them in an industry-based dialogue.” Ruby’s goal is to work with companies to get audience attention through tweeting and other strategies and interact with their customers. She also provides advice for company leaders about how to rethink their marketing plans and embrace the power Twitter and other social networking sites have to build brands.
So what advice would Jaehnig and Ruby offer other prospective freelance tweeters and social media experts? Ruby feels ethics are critical to anyone who wants to ghostwrite for a company: “If a company hires me and does not provide me with an internal contact to tweet with and receive corporate information from on a daily basis, I will most likely turn down the business, as I don’t want to misrepresent the company,” she says. “But I realize that a consultant can only know so much about what is going on inside a company without being there on a daily basis. I think this is one of the biggest problems that will arise with companies outsourcing tweeting if they are not careful. There need to be strict guidelines in place for this, because we are essentially representing their brand online.”
July 29, 2010 7pm
42, The Resturant
The Ritz Carlton, White Plains, NY
Featuring the favorite foods of NYC with a twist by Chef Anthony Goncalves
Please register online:
Please call 518-459-3622 with any questions.
To provide the fundamental age-appropriate diabetes education, medical and psychological treatment, and social support essential for children and adolescents to properly manage their diabetes and cope with their disease.
For more small business tips on AOL- visit http://smallbusiness.aol.com/2010/07/06/byob-be-your-own-brand/
YJP Fashion Summit Tips from Top Fashion CEO’s
RMG was a proud host of the YJP’s first ever Fashion & Beauty Summit on March 3rd, 2010 at The Chelsea Pearl in Manhattan, NY. Hundreds of young professionals from the apparel, accessories, beauty and footwear industries attended the event.
The evening featured CEO’s from top fashion lines including:
Abe Chehebar (Chairman, Accessory Network)
Sam Edelmen (CEO of Sam Edelman Shoes)
Efraim Grinberg (Chairman, Movado Group)
Brendan Hoffman (President & CEO, Lord & Taylor)
Andrew Rosen (President & CEO, Theory)
Mark Weber (Charmain & CEO of Donna Karan International & CEO of LVMH)
The CEO’s had some great advice for aspiring fashionistas & entrepreneurs looking to get into the business. They also commented on the widespread importance of the integration of social media into fashion PR & Marketing and discussed their most challenging “Devil Wears Prada” moments throughout the duration of their fashion careers. We captured the most compelling quotes from the CEO’s during the open panel discussion.
What is the most important attribute you have to possess for getting into the industry?
“You must have passion! Passion & experience are critical. Corporate culture is also important- get involved in a company whose culture you aspire to be part of.”
What are your thoughts on the ever-changing aspect of fashion and how it plays into marketing & the economy?
“The most important thing to ask yourself is- do you have a product that is appealing to a wide audience? Make sure you have a great product and that you understand your customer before marketing to them.” Brendan Hoffman, CEO of Lord & Taylor
What about the hiring process for those interested in starting a career in fashion today?
“I recommended working for someone first and gaining experience. A lot of the overall decision-making process is based on instincts. My top advice for hiring is to have a gut instinct, react emotionally and always disaster check!” Andrew Rosen, CEO of Theory
“Learn about the corporate culture in the company you are interested in working for- it is the most important thing in a company. I originally came to Lord & Taylor from Neimans, and shortly after joining the company the market crashed. I was brought up to use analytics first, but I now rely on my instinct more and have literally repositioned my brain.” Brendan Hoffman, CEO of Lord & Taylor
What is the current status of the luxury business today and what advice can you give to others in the industry?
“The luxury business is alive and well- people who spend money will continue to. You have to develop a great product and create a name that stands for something. I would also point out that interaction with consumer enhances your ability to navigate your business.” Mark Weber, CEO of Donna Karan & LVMH
“Streamline business and empower people.” Brendan Hoffman, CEO of Lord & Taylor
“I went from selling $2000 handbags at Neimans to $200 handbags Lord & Taylor- at the end of the day both bags are still luxury items. You now have the opportunity to create a luxury environment for your consumer at multiple price points.” Brendan Hoffman, CEO of Lord & Taylor
“I made my career selling to retailers- today the model of the business has changed and the future of business rests with the retailer.”
“Control your product and pricing. Be good at what you do and you’ll be your competitor.”
“Luxury can be at very different price points- what it can’t be is cheap!” Abe Chehebar, Chairman, Accessory Network
“Luxury from Hermes & Gucci is based on quality. When there’s a quality Commodity, luxury will always survive. You must give an image to the buyer and you have to buy quality products.”
“People must appreciate the DNA of the brand- when this occurs the brand will always thrive regardless of economy.”
“The most important value proposition is that the product must have a clear DNA. For example, how did Tory Burch create a great product? She spoke to her customer in the language they wanted to hear.”
What is your best career advice?
“Find something you LOVE. When you are young you have the choice to find a career that suits you. 99% out of the days I love what I do!” Andrew Rosen, CEO of Theory
“Everyone has everything you need- we are in the “want” business.” Mark Weber, CEO of Donna Karan & LVMH
“Success is limited to your imagination- products shouldn’t prohibit your creativity.”
“The best way to create value is not about promoting the wrong price- promote the brand name and image as well as attributes that make it desirable.”
How is social media impacting the fashion world?
“Social media is impacting the fashion world by creating brand awareness and increasing web traffic to new products.”
“We are currently building a fan base for several of our brands on Facebook. Social media marketing enables you to really find the people who are passionate about your brand and it gives you a chance to directly communicate with them. We love finding these people and try our best to now respond to them through social media within 24 hours. We also look at reviews on people’s web sites and blogs. Social media will rise very fast in the fashion world within the next 12-18 months.” Abe Chehebar, Chairman, Accessory Network
“Facebook, Twitter & all of the mediums are new and the industry has not yet recognized the potential. We spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to interact with the consumer via social networks.”
1 CEO’s response when questioned on social media: “We are all over it!”
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING WORKSHOP: PART 2
Are you overwhelmed by social media but know you need to be part of the revolution? Are you still confused what a “tweet” is? Do you keep ignoring invitations to connect on LinkedIN because you are not sure how to use it?
Event Date: Thursday, February 18th, 2010 at 6:00pm
Would you like to use social media?
At our first social media event in Westchester, NY, we gave you an overview of the main social networks. In the follow up to the social media seminar, President and Founder of Ruby Media Group, Kris Ruby, will give you an interactive workshop and take you live into the main social networks including LinkedIN, Twitter and Facebook.
At this workshop, you will learn how to leverage social media sites for personal as well as corporate branding. Kristen will go through live examples of LinkedIN profiles that are successful for lead generation and branding. She will pick a live audience member and critique their profile as well as provide helpful branding and PR suggestions to “socialize” their profile for web 2.0
Learn how your company can leverage these new marketing distribution channels to optimize content. At this event, there will also be a Q& A session with Kristen where you can ask her any question on social media marketing. Join us for Part 2 of our social media workshop and learn how to take advantage of this social phenomenon!
Kristen Ruby, President and Founder, RubyMediaGroup
Bio: Kristen Ruby is the President and Founder of Ruby Media Group, a social media marketing & Public Relations agency. Kristen “socializes” businesses for web 2.0 and helps companies adapt traditional marketing into social media platforms. Kristen specializes in social media optimization, personal & corporate branding in real time and optimized PR. By utilizing various social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIN, Kristen creates online visibility for her clients and increases overall branding awareness by enhancing their brand image in web 2.0 communities. Kristen is at the epicenter of the social media marketing world and frequently speaks to businesses and associations on new media and viral marketing. She also presents social media marketing workshops for CEO groups to empower business owners to utilize social tools for their networks. Kristen graduated from Boston University’s College of Communication with a major in Public Relations and a minor in Sociology. Kristen is also the Director of the” Girls In Tech” social media mentorship program to encourage girls to enter the field of social media marketing. She has partnered up with some of Westchester’s most reputable PR and marketing agencies as their New Media Specialist on social media campaigns including Giles Communications and DataKey Consulting.
About Ruby Media Group:
Thursday, February 18th, 2009
6:00 – 6:30 PM: Registration. Refreshments and Light Fare included.
6:30 (SHARP) – 7:45 PM – Social Media Workshop Led by Kristen Ruby, Ruby Media Group
7:45-8:15 PM: – Networking
Greenwich Library – 2nd Floor Meeting Room
101 West Putnam Avenue, Greenwich, CT 06830
Tel: 203 622.7900
CBSAC/NY and CU/Fairfield Members: $20 thru Feb. 10th, $25 after Feb 10th.
Non-members: $25 for on-line registry or at the door.
On-Line Registration Cut-Off is Feb.14th, but you may register on-site.
We can accommodate a maximum of 45 registrants, so please contact Susan LaFleur directly at 914 774.1199 after Feb 14th if you plan on paying at the door so that she can confirm availability and pencil you in!
To purchase tickets click here Puchase!!
To become a member of CBSACNY click here
From the New England Thruway (I-95): Take exit 3 (Arch Street). At end of ramp, turn north, away from Long Island Sound. After traffic light past the RR bridge, take Soundview Drive uphill to Fieldpoint Road. Take right onto Field Point Road. Stay in the left lane, curving left after you pass the Town Hall. The road will intersect with the Post Road (Rte. 1). The Library will be directly across the street, on the right.
From the Merritt Parkway: Take the Lake Avenue exit (Exit 29), and follow signs to central Greenwich. Go 4.5 miles to the Lake Avenue Circle. At the Circle, take Dearfield Drive (directly across the circle as you enter it) The Library entrance is on the left as you approach the traffic light at Rte. 1.
Event Organizers: This event has been organized by the Ct/ Westchester Committee of CBSAC/NY.