Avoiding Legal HASSELS

Throughout Ch.3 of my public Relations Textbook it discusses different examples of legal issues, and ways to avoid them. “Libel is injury to reputation. Words, pictures or cartoons that expose a person to public hatred, shame, disgrace or ridicule or induce an ill opinion of a person are libelous.”

-In order for a Jury to award defamation damage, four points have to 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 and sufferings.
  4. The publisher of the statement was malicious or negligent.

Corporations also are considered “Public Figures” by the courts for several reasons:

  1. They engage in advertising and promotion, voluntarily offering products to the public for purchase and even criticism.
  2. They are often involved in matters of public controversy and public policy.
  3. They have the resources for regular access to the media that enables them to respond and rebut criticism.

-Lawsuits, provide warning of what can happen, but this does not mean that an organization has to avoid statements of fact or opinions in PR materials, but one has to remember in this case the “fair comment privilege” may still take place, which relates to the freedom of speech.

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