The Philadelphia Eagles have already had at least one negative experience with social media. You may recall that, in March 2009, the organization received a lot of negative publicity following its termination of an employee who made less-than-favorable comments about the team’s decision to trade Philly favorite, Brian Dawkins–those comments were posted on the employee’s Facebook page. (See Eagles Employee Gets Benched for Comment on Facebook Page).
Despite the negative pushback, the organization stuck with its decision to terminate the employee. So you’d think that it would have taken the initiative to draft a social-media policy (or at least some guidelines) for employees’ use going forward.
Well, either the policy never got written or an employee violated it because the Eagles have made the news again with another social-media snafu. An employee decided it would be a good way to show team enthusiasm, I guess, to spit (yes, spit) on the midfield star at the Dallas Cowboy’s new stadium. Not only to spit (twice, to be specific), but to video tape himself spitting. Oh, wait, it gets better. He posted the video to the team’s web site.
Wow. How many things are wrong with that story?
The employee, who also is the team’s web site editor, posted an apology on the site on Wednesday and the video was removed from the site. As proof of the maxim that everything that is posted on the Internet is permanent, the video was grabbed and posted on You Tube. The apology included the disclaimer that he was acting “alone and without permission from the Eagles organization.”
This story is an example of several important principles. Here are a few that come to mind:
1. Have a social-media policy that prohibits employees from disparaging anyone, including competitors or rival organizations.
2. Educate employees on what constitutes good and poor judgment. This conduct should have been an obvious example of what not to do, in my opinion, but, the painful reality is that it wasn’t. As evidenced by the fact that the employee posted the video on the team’s web site.
3. Use this example as a teaching experience. Communicate to other employees in the organization what went right and what went wrong here and use this as a learning opportunity.