Facebook password: can an employer ask for yours?

How far would you go to secure your dream job? Or in this economy, any job? What if your potential employer asked for your Facebook password in order for you to advance in the interview process? It seems ridiculous, but unfortunately an alarming number of cases like this are surfacing.

Facebook seems to have finally caught wind of the situation, and has threatened to sue employers who ask job applicants for passwords to their accounts. On Friday, March 23, Facebook’s chief privacy officer released a statement saying, “We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action. Sharing a Facebook password or asking for someone else’s password violates Facebook’s user agreement. An employer who requests such information may face unanticipated legal liability.”

Facebook warned that if personal information gathered from a Facebook page negatively affects an employer’s decision, the company might be liable for discrimination. Facebook didn’t, however, state any specific legal actions it would take.

And that’s probably because asking for a job applicant’s Facebook password is not actually illegal. Typically, interviewers are only prohibited from asking questions that are discriminatory in nature.

So what can and can’t employers ask in interviews? And what are you supposed to do if you are caught being pressured to answer an illegal question? Weidert’s PR team did its own investigation into Wisconsin’s Fair Hiring laws—for all of you who are just entering or re-entering the job market.

Arrest Records

It is illegal for an employer in Wisconsin to inquire about past arrest records, but it allows for consideration of a current arrest. This basically means that employers can ask about any arrest that is unresolved, but if it is in the past, they should leave it there.

Children

It is unlawful for an employer to ask about the number of children you have, their ages, your childcare situation or your pregnancy status. These questions are considered to be discriminatory against women and are usually only asked to gauge potential tardiness and absenteeism.

Credit Records

It is illegal for an employer to seek credit reports or a history of credit. Inquiries of this nature are irrelevant to job performance and are considered to be discriminatory to minorities.

Family Members at the Company

It is illegal for an employer to ask if you have friends or family working for their company. Although they may have policies against it that are legal, they can not make these inquiries during the interview, as they usually have a negative impact on women more than men.

Honesty Tests

It is never legal to require an applicant to take a polygraph test as a condition of employment. Any test taken must be voluntary and have no impact on the hiring decision.

Salary

While it’s lawful to ask a person what their lowest acceptable salary is, it is illegal to pay a woman less than a man performing the same job functions.

So, although it may be legal as of right now for an employer to ask for your Facebook password, remember that they can’t base their decision on what they see. Either way, remember that you have the right to say no.

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For touch points, creativity is the most important factor

As originally seen on http://www.weidert.com

I recently attended the Public Relations Student Society of America’s National Conference in Orlando, Fla. where I had the opportunity to hear from Geno Church, word-of-mouth expert and author of the new book Brains on FireI was lucky enough to be able to hear him speak again at the Northeast Wisconsin PRSA’s annual meeting last Tuesday. During his presentation on social media strategy, he briefly talked about ‘touch points’.

It seems that touch points have been a popular topic on marketing strategy blogs lately. In a world that is becoming more and more automated everyday, companies who get personal with their customers stand out in the crowd. Tangibles like business cards, newsletters, packaging and personalized emails are all considered to be touch points, and if they are executed strategically, their simplicity will enhance and strengthen your brand.

On the book’s blogBrains on Fire colleague Amy Taylor wrote about a recent experience she had with the company MOO. Not to steal her example, but I also had a similar experience with the company that I’d like to share with you. I came across MOO a few months ago when I was looking to make new and creative business cards. A quick Google search brought me to their website where I found several creative options to add to my personal brand. I chose a design, placed my order and waited for my cards to arrive.

Normally, I receive a basic email after an online purchase saying that my order has been processed and I am provided with a tracking number. Boring, plain, nothing special. Much to my surprise, MOO was different. Shortly after ordering, I received an email from “Little MOO”, the company’s automated email service. Not only did Little MOO give me a tracking number, but he also assured me that he would be there to answer any questions I had along the way. Below is the opening paragraph from the email:

Hi Jessica,

I’m Little MOO – the bit of software that will be managing your order with moo.com. It will shortly be sent to Big MOO, our print machine who will print it for you in the next few days. I’ll let you know when it’s done and on its way to you.

Letter from Little MOO

Not only did the company keep me updated on the order process, they also built anticipation for the arrival of my business cards. Most importantly, though, they made me remember them. By adding a little bit of creativity to their automated emails, I was entertained and left anxiously awaiting the next email from Little MOO. Geno also makes the point in his blog that not all touch points have to be extravagant or even expensive. The simple wording of this email is what put their name in my head.

But not all touch points have to be digital. I recently booked a weekend at the Sand Bay Beach Resort in Door County in hopes of catching the last of the fall colors. In addition to sending me a pamphlet about their hotel, I also received several pamphlets about attractions in Door County, as well as the featured events that were happening when I would be there. The hotel also contacted me to see if they could help me book any scenic tours or wine tastings. Although this is something that they probably do for all of their customers, it was personalized for the time that I would be there and it made me feel like they valued my business. Again, this was something simple and inexpensive, but it went a long way in making an impression on me.

Now, more than ever, it is important to stand out from the crowd. Are your automated messages blending in? Be creative, think differently and make those personal connections. Not only will you stick in your customers’ minds, but you will build your company’s brand loyalty.

Read Amy Taylor’s blog posting about touch points for more insight.

View from the Bottom: Crucial Skills the Classroom Won’t Provide You With

Originally posted on Weidert Group’s blog.

The other day one of my best friends, who attends a UW university that shall remain unnamed, called me to give me an update on her newly declared major, public relations/ web presence. I always love to hear what she’s doing because I think there is a lot that can be learned from the perspectives other colleges are taking on the industry.

Our conversation was going great until we started talking about internships. I asked her what she was planning on doing for the summer, hoping to hear about an awesome opportunity she got in her college town. Instead, she replied with, “Internship? Where the heck do you expect me to get one of those? We don’t have to get internships here.”

It took all I had in me not to scream at her. But, that would not really help anything.

The sad thing is that there are a lot of students, across the state and our country, who are graduating with degrees in the public relations/communications field and feel the same way. It doesn’t matter where you go to school, internship experience will be required at almost any place you apply. After working at my internship at Weidert Group for seven months, I can’t stress enough how important it is for college students to secure internships before they graduate.

Because if you don’t, you will be stuck interning after you graduate, in order to obtain the necessary experience for entry-level jobs in this industry!

Here is my list of the top five things (that employers see as necessary skills) that you won’t learn in the classroom:

1.) How to pitch the media. This is something that many of us will be doing everyday after we graduate, and it is one of the main skills that prospective employers look for when they are hiring. Have you had success pitching the media? Do you know what goes into a proper press release or media alert? What’s the difference? My internship has provided me with the ability to pitch print and digital media, as well as form relationships with local media professionals. Now, I can go into an interview and show them my media placements, display my media contacts and discuss their preferences in press release layout.

2.) How to network. Networking is one of the most important skills that a PR professional can possess. After all, one of the biggest parts of our job is managing relationships, right? My internship had provided me with the opportunity to attend countless networking opportunities ranging from client/ corporate events to fundraisers and Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) meetings. At these events, I have met PR professionals in our community that have big influences at their companies (something that will be nice when I am a professional myself).

3.) How to plan implement and measure a PR campaign. Yes, our classes give us a lot of theoretical practice when it comes to PR campaigns. But, what they don’t give us is the experience owning a campaign, approaching a business with a plan and making countless adjustments to the plan when the business says, “Sections B, D, F and G don’t work for us.” While interning, I have had the chance to work on PR campaigns from beginning to end. Unlike in the classroom, I get to go to client meetings, see their reactions and make changes to the document as they happen. You tell me what class allows you to do that.

4.) How to track social media and campaign results. This goes way beyond Hootsuite analytics, people. One of the things that I was most overwhelmed by during my first few weeks on the job was the outrageous number of analytic, measuring and marketing platforms that different companies use. Being that I work at an agency, we have to know them all, because our clients all use different ones. During my time at Weidert, I have used Vertical Response, Google Analytics, Survey Monkey, MyMediaInfo, WordPress stats, Pitchengine and, yes, even Hootsuite analytics. One platform that I need to learn in Radian 6, and you should consider learning it, and the others mentioned, too! The more you know, the more attractive you are to employers.

5.) How to be professional. Yes, there is a certain way that you have to act around your company’s executives and CEO’s. There’s also a way that you have to act around clients. These personas differentiate quite a bit and it is really something that you have to learn as you go. Thankfully, I have been able to make mistakes at my internship, an extended learning environment, versus my first professional job. Mistakes in the real world tend to me more embarrassing and come with heavier consequences.

So, I encourage you to look for an internship if you were previously opposed to one. In fact, Weidert Group is currently hiring a marketing intern and a graphic design intern; consider applying! They are so important and are vital to your success after graduation. If you have questions, or don’t know where to begin, contact me at jbedore@weidert.com or Weidert’s internship coordinator, Abby Gutowski, at agutowski@weidert.com.

What the heck is Klout?

I’m sure that you have been hearing the buzz about Klout, or have possibly seen your Klout score on a Hootsuite profile. When I began using Hootsuite about six months ago, I was immediately curious about the score and decided to do some additional research. To this day, it is something that confuses and perplexes me, but I can’t stop monitoring it!

Klout profile

Click here to calculate your Klout score.

Here is what I have come to understand about Klout so far. Hopefully it can be of some help to you!

1.) Klout is a tool that measures the power of your online influence. They look at things like the strength of your engaged network, the likelihood that your tweets will be acted upon and the influence level of your engaged audience

2.) Your Klout score is given on a scale of 1 to 100, and a higher score represents a wider and stronger sphere of influence. The people at Klout define influence as “the ability to drive people to action”.

3.) Klout scores will fluctuate a lot, and they are constantly improving whatever algorithm that they use to figure out what your score is. It can be frustrating because right when you think you are starting to figure the system out, they change it.

4.) The website has an interesting feature called “Klout Perks”, which offers special deals on various products to people who have high Klout scores or a specialized audience. Starbucks, CoverGirl, Virgin Airlines and Dove Body have all partnered with Klout to offer promotions to online influencers. My understanding is that by offering a deal, the company is hoping that you will tweet the product to your online network and influence others to go out and buy/ try it. In my opinion, it’s genius. Why hasn’t someone thought of this earlier?

5.) There’s also a new feature that allows you to measure your Klout score for Facebook. I don’t know much about this because I just signed up for it tonight, but I will share more about it when I get more information!

What are your thoughts on Klout? Did you go to the site and get your score? I’d love to hear more about this if there are any experts out there! 🙂