Risk mitigation: Screen social media to avoid negative press

By Cori Wamsley, SMI, LLC

Wendy Bell, one slip?

Wendy Bell, one slip?

By now, you have probably heard about Wendy Bell being fired from WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh, PA, for racially insensitive comments she made on her Facebook page. Not only does her post reflect poorly on her, but as a long-time employee of the station, her comments will be associated with WTAE-TV as well, even though the station likely doesn’t share the same opinion.

We have yet to see the full damage that her post has done, but as an employer, you would have to wonder if her opinions could affect viewership, sponsorship, and long-term goals of the station. Though WTAE-TV took actions to disassociate themselves with her, the link has already been made and could pose a threat to the brand.

Although many companies require their employees to attend sensitivity trainings and insist that employees who are well-known have more extensive training or assistance with their online presence, these incidents still happen.

In an age when one employee can impact a company’s image with a simple phrase, how can you hope to protect the brand that you have dedicated your time to building?

Monitoring and investigating the online presence of your current, former, and potential employees is part of the answer.


Checking their posts on various social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram could help you pick up on certain language that indicates undesirable qualities and could help you get ahead of a media nightmare.

If you spot a thoughtless comment from one of your current employees, you could act accordingly, requesting that the comment be removed, insisting on sensitivity or public relations training, or otherwise addressing the mishap as your company sees fit.

Former employees could also be asked to remove the remark. In the case of a potential hire, you may decide that this is no longer an appropriate candidate for the job.



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