There's been a lot in the news and (ironically) on social media about what's appropriate to share on social media regarding the work place, fueled by individuals who have posted comments or photos that they're employers found inappropriate on Facebook accounts, blogs, Twitter, etc.. In many cases, those individuals have lost their jobs as a result. Several folks have gone to court over these situations, with mixed results.

Regardless - the short answer lesson most have learned - don't post anything you wouldn't say directly to a fellow coworker or your boss.

What I've come to realize watching these cases, and through my own experience, is that the rules of virtual and public professional conduct not only apply to folks in theatre, but are, in many respects, higher.

Why? Because no matter how great your marketing department, everyone in a theatre is a P.R. person - simply by working for that company or group.  Marketing helps sell tickets, but so does word of mouth, and a negative comment can make an impact.

I had a personal experience with this a few years ago. In a public place, I told a friend how difficult a tech had been. Though I said nothing derogatory towards the actual production, I was speaking honestly about my frustrations with the tech process. My comments were overheard, and taken greatly out of context - I suspect mostly due to that person not knowing "the lingo" of theatre. That person then (I'd like to think innocently and with good intentions) asked my Artistic Director about the show, and what I'd said.  

As you can imagine, that didn't go over well.

The Artistic Director and I had a long conversation about it - and his point was well taken. While I hadn't said anything about the production specifically, comments were still applied to the production in question, especially by an individual who may appreciate and enjoy theatre, but knows little about the process or behind the scenes aspects of the industry. Anything I say regarding a production or the company is a direct reflection of whatever we have on our boards, especially when said in a public setting.  I would never in a million years considered it appropriate to tell my friend that the show was bad, or post anything on a social media site about it, but I'd never considered it "wrong" to tell her the tech process was problematic.

Since that experience, I still tell my friends how things go - good or bad - but I make sure that those conversations are private, and that they are with people who understand they are personal experience. 

It's something to keep in mind still. It's easy when I take my crew out for lunch for them to vent about work - but a restaurant is probably not the venue for that vent.  

Until next time cats and kittens,

Cheers,

~R

Views: 406

Tags: P.R., marketing, public-image, social-media, theatre

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Comment by Richelle Thompson on August 6, 2013 at 12:00pm

Thanks Stephen and Ken for your comments. In addition to the artistic side of photos, I wonder about the ramifications for Equity theatres. Actors belonging the the union have to be notified before photo calls etc. and patrons aren't allowed to take photos. What about personal photos taken? 

Comment by KEN BERNSTEIN on August 5, 2013 at 7:08am

In a management seminar a few years we were warned about this. You never know who is sitting next to you.  It could be the best friend/neighbor of the person you are talking about.  Always watch what you say in public.  And Stephen I always make it a rule not to post any set pictures until after the first public performance.  I will repost any publicity pictures which have been released.

Comment by Stephen Dean on August 5, 2013 at 12:51am

Very valid points, another avenue to consider is the camera phone and people posting pictures on Facebook, Instagram etc of the production they are working on. Often this can give away the element of surprise for the audience. All companies need to have a social media policy that clearly states what can or cannot be posted. The marketting department may have a nice stategy in place only to have it damaged when a crew or cast member posts a picture. As a theatre professional I do not like pictures of my design work etc being "leaked" until I am ready.

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