No company is immune to reputational assaults via social media, and effectively responding to digital attacks often requires an interdisciplinary approach to social crisis management. One essential member of the crisis response team is in-house legal counsel. The role of legal counsel in ensuring regulatory and legal compliance at times of crisis is critical, and with persistent episodes of digital vulnerability transpiring globally, determining the needs and preparedness of corporate counsel is crucial to successful reputation management. Weber Shandwick partnered with KRC Research to explore the perspectives of in-house legal counsel on social media crises. We conducted a telephone survey of 100 senior and mid-level practicing attorneys (50 in the US and 50 in the UK) who work as in-house counsel for Fortune Global 1000 companies and who personally engage in reputation risk management.
Our research finds that despite recognising that a company’s reputation is its most valuable asset and having concerns about the risks posed by social media – 85% of in-house lawyers agree that social media has greatly increased the potential for a minor problem to turn into a major crisis – legal departments are not sufficiently engaging in social media crisis preparedness and management. Only 54% of the in-house lawyers surveyed have had training, legal or otherwise, on how social media impacts their company, and only 21% say their department is very involved in preparing for a social crisis. Additionally, a full nine in 10 lawyers say it is not likely that a social media crisis will cause their company a legal risk in the next year.
The report provides a series of recommendations for in-house counsel to more effectively engage in social media crisis management.
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