I Heard It From The PR Girl

Chapter 3: Avoiding Legal Hassles

Posted in Reading Notes by laurynwilliams on February 3, 2010

“Defamation is a collective term for slander or libel.” Juries award defamation damages if the following 4 points can be proved by the injured party:

1)  The statement was published to others by print or broadcast

2) The plaintiff was identified or is identifiable

3) There was actual injury in the form of monetary losses, impairment of reputation, humiliation, or mental anguish

4) The publisher of the statement was malicious or negligent

“The key phrase for avoiding defamation suits is to ‘watch your language.’ In institutions involving personnel, organizations often avoid potential lawsuits by saying that an employee left “for personal reasons” or to “pursue other interests,” even if the real reason was incompetence or a record of sexual harassment.”

A public relations firm cannot avoid conspiracy by using the defense of “the client told me to do it.”

“A copyright, under current U.S. law, protects original material for the life of the creator plus 70 years for individual works and 95 years from publication for copyrights held by corporations.”

The registered trademark symbol is a superscript, small capital “R” in a circle. A superscript “TM” in small capital letters indicated a trademark that isn’t registered. A service mark, a small capital “SM” in a circle, is like a trademark, but it designates a service rather than a product, or is a logo. See page 76 for more details.

All material here is quoted or paraphrased from Public Relations Writing and Media Techniques (6th Ed.)


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