Whose PR work is it anyway? | Heather Yaxley - Greenbanana views of public relations and more
"There was a lively debate at the recent International History of PR Conference (IHPRC) regarding open access online publication of the presented papers and what this could mean for their future journal acceptance. This may seem an academic issue, but it also has relevance for PR practice as the question of who ‘owns’ work or its ‘copyright’ is a hot topic. In PR practice, this extends to aspects such as Twitter followers, where accounts are arguably both personal and professional. If a CEO leaves a post, is it okay for them to rebrand their account if it previously linked to the organisation and ‘take’ the followers with them? Or should this account be left behind for the new incumbent? Do the same considerations apply to PR practitioners who may equally have a high profile? Not a big issue perhaps if policies and contracts are in place, but if not, this could become a controversial issue – or similarly if someone joins an organisation with an existing online profile and community network. In some ways, this extends the ‘little black book’ of contacts that was an issue of debate in the past for PR practitioners. Another long-standing matter relates to PR campaigns and who has the ‘right’ to use these for promotional purposes. Is it only the agency that was involved? What about if all personnel have subsequently moved on? Can they cite their involvement in CVs (resumes) or future pitching opportunities? And what about the client – isn’t the work theirs, and should agencies refrain from publicising their involvement if they no longer work for the client? Which leads me to consider who ‘owns’ a case study? These are often no more than anecdotal recollections that appear online or in textbooks, or perhaps the result of an analysis of publicly available materials. Agencies frequently need the approval of clients to get permission to publish a case study, but once it is in print, can it be reported on (provided credit is given to the original source)? ... What about in teaching, where I may use a case study example? Again the issue of who owns any slides that we use can be a contractual matter – but what about when students have access to study materials, or clients, when we deliver corporate training? ... Back to the academic discussion, where there is an interesting question. In the UK, work funded by the Research Councils is required to be freely accessible including outside the normal academic channels ... "