I chose to major in public relations for a reason. I’m horrible at math, some science doesn’t make sense to me and law just doesn’t always click. But as I’ve taken more courses in public relations as I’m moving toward graduation day, I’ve learned that law has a special place in public relations and it’s too important to brush aside.
Even the public relations professionals who spend their days planning events or monitoring social media channels must stay up-to-date on the legal world to protect their clients and the content they create for them.
There are three aspects of the law in particular that I think are especially important for public relations practitioners to learn about and keep in mind as they create press kits, gain media coverage and more:
1. Defamation- includes libel (false published statements) and slander (false oral statements). These false statements are considered defamation when they cause public dislike, ridicule or damage to a reputation.
2. Copyright Infringement-copying protected work, even from a website or blog, without authorization to do so.
3. Invasion of Privacy- includes false light, commercial misappropriation, intrusion upon seclusion and publication of private facts.
If public relations professionals don’t keep these areas of law in mind, they may quickly and easily find themselves in a sticky situation. If they want to protect their clients and employer (and possibly themselves and their business if they are self-employed), it’s their responsibility to be knowledgeable and mindful of the above areas of law and more.