With global revenue of over $2 trillion, the entertainment and media industry takes on considerable risk when it comes to hiring (and firing) thousands of employees, many of them high-profile and subject to intense scrutiny. In a climate where it is easier than ever for an employee to post content that generates a social media firestorm, media companies need to think about all the options available for mitigating online scandals. Here’s what we mean:
Entertainment and social media: overexposure is to be expected
Public-facing entertainment workers--whether that’s the talent, executives, or members of the production or creative team--have a tremendous influence on social media platforms as individuals as well as a collective within an industry that operates heavily in the public eye. Unfortunately, with tremendous influence comes a responsibility to the organizations that they work for.
Entertainment is no stranger to media firestorms about things that their employees say online. A quick google search will reveal plenty of stories of celebrities and influencers fired for all manner of offensive comments, endorsements, or, need we be reminded, “Ambien tweeting.” As a result of this risky type of constant exposure, entertainment companies are no stranger to social media clauses in their contracts. And yet, regular “gaffes”, offensive statements, or explicit photos--many of them buried deep in social media timelines--still surface regularly, costing companies thousands of dollars to mount an apology tour in the best-case scenario, and millions in a severed contract in the worst-case scenario. Is this the cost of doing business? It might be, but a quick look at other options may suggest otherwise.
How can social media screening help?
For most industries, social media screening can act as a preventative measure for hiring managers to weed out potentially toxic hires or to bring employees alongside for a deeper understanding of company values. However, because of the intensely public nature of the entertainment industry, screening for potentially problematic material can function as fundamental “digital hygiene” for highly visible talent or other public-facing employees. A simple review of talent’s social media could be the difference between this week’s social media scandal and being able to keep a working relationship with valued talent.
With a candidate’s consent, our social media hiring reports take a closer look at their online presence. Whether that’s to ensure the good character of a rank-and-file employee or to perform a risk assessment on high-profile talent, a social media hiring report gives organizations a more complete picture of a candidate’s online presence. Our reports identify behaviors that may lead to workplace safety issues or public outrages such as violence, racism, homophobia, sexual harassment, and substance abuse. This process adds a simple, yet effective layer of review that can potentially catch seemingly benign issues that may pose a risk for scrutiny down the road.