Leveraging Your Reputation: Time for a Facebook check

Tom Ciesielka is President of TC Public Relations (www.tcpr.net). Tom has over 25 years of marketing and public relations experience, working with individual lawyers and midsize law firms. He is also a former board member of the Legal Marketing Association in Chicago and has spoken at Chicago Bar Association CLE programs. Reach him at tc@tcpr.net.

People have been using Facebook for a while, but there are always some people who forget to be careful about what they post and who they’re friends with, even if they’re experienced attorneys.

Recently, a partner at a law firm had a close call when a reporter got a photo from the attorney’s Facebook page, and ended up using it for publication. There was nothing controversial about the photo, but I’d say it was a close call because the attorney had no idea that the reporter had been digging around Facebook to find a photo, and what if it was embarrassing?

So this serves as a lesson: Even though you might post something that seems benign, you have to be careful because even the media can end up using a photo for their website or publication if you haven’t provided one, or if they’re not satisfied with what you’ve submitted. The photo could simply be unflattering or worse. Just check what you have, or don’t post any personal photos at all.

Think about your profile: Is there anything you don’t want anyone to see? Or have you friended people to whom you don’t want to expose your personal information or photos? And what about your status updates or comments you’ve made on other people’s pages?

If you want to see where your name appears on Facebook, in addition to a Google search, try Foupas, which is a Facebook search engine. If a fan page or someone’s personal page is public, your name will show up. Sometimes people tag us in photos and we’re not aware of it until we do a search.

Avoid a public relations disaster: check your photos, remove anything you don’t feel comfortable with, and make sure your privacy settings are locked down and that you actually know all your friends. You can also go a step further and delete your Facebook account, and then create a new one. However, if you delete your account, you’ll have to get a new username because your old one will be retired.

So be careful out there, and consider all aspects of your public image, whether it’s on Facebook or anywhere else on or offline.

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