Agencies decline to stop Facebook use

As a growing number of emp­loyers seek to ban the use of Facebook on work compu­ters, PRWeek has found that the top ten PR agencies are continuing to allow its use.Three agencies, conscious of its networking value, are activ­ely encouraging their staff to use the site.

Gallagher: ban is impractical
Gallagher: ban is impractical

Directors of Weber Shandwick, Fishburn Hedges and Edelman are taking the view that the social networking tool du jour should be a useful way of keeping in contact with clients, media and each other.

James Warren, director of interactive, social and emerging media at Weber Shandwick, said: ‘If anything, we encourage its use. We’re increasingly using the groups and events functions for more direct consumer engagement.’

Ketchum, Edelman and Hill & Knowlton have put policies in place, particularly with regard to blogging.

Edelman CEO Robert Phillips said: ‘We have a blogging policy and suggest to staff that this is applied to social media. Client confidentiality has to be respec­ted and the context in which our own name is used has to be appropriate.’

Off all the agency bosses, Sally Costerton, CEO of Hill and Knowlton, was most reserved about Facebook use. She said it had been ‘discussed a lot in recent management meetings due to its popularity and the blurring of lines within it between individuals and company representatives’.
She added that there were concerns about staff wasting time on the site and whether it was appropriate to use it in a work context. The agency will make a decision on whether to implement a policy by Christmas.

‘Everyone has to take a position on Facebook that is right for their organisation,’ she said.

But Ketchum CEO David Gallagher was not convinced that such a ban would be practical. ‘People will move towards this platform as they did email,’ he said. ‘There is a proliferation in this area and to try to stop it is futile.’

PRWeek approached sen­­­ior staff at Bell Pottin­ger Group; Citigate Dewe Rogerson; Edelman; FD; Finsbury; Fishburn Hedges; Freud Communications; Hill & Knowlton; Ketchum; and Weber Shandwick.


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