The Association of Pet Dog Trainers Social Media Policy
The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) has created the following policy to clarify how employees, board members and volunteers can utilize new social media technologies while protecting and enhancing the APDT’s reputation in the public sphere.
Social media are Internet-based media that can be accessed by a variety of stakeholders and provide an interactive arena for communication with the public. Examples of social media include Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, LinkedIn, Flickr, personal blog sites, and more.
The APDT stresses that employees, board members and volunteers must adhere to the same standards of conduct and professional expectations online as they would in normal, day to day life. APDT staff, board members and volunteers are liable for anything that they post on social media web sites. While many of us use social media sites for our own personal use, we must be aware that the lines between work and personal life can become blurred. Any activity that you participate in outside of the work/volunteer sphere of the APDT can affect your job performance and that of others, as well as the APDT’s interests.
The APDT wants to encourage our staff, board members and volunteers to participate in the social media arena in order to promote the APDT, but we ask that you do so following the guidelines outlined in this policy. Senior staff and board members of the APDT have a special responsibility with their online presence by the fact of their high profile positions within the association and the dog training industry.
This is true even if they do not explicitly state what their affiliation with the APDT is. All senior level staff and board members should assume that his or her posts will be digested by a wide variety of individuals associated with the dog training industry and the public at large, and their posts will be assumed to be associated with the APDT whether intended or not.
I: Policies for All Social Media Web Sites, Including Personal Web Sites
- Protect confidential and proprietary APDT information: Do not post any confidential or proprietary information about the APDT or its staff, board members, volunteers or members. Staff or volunteers who share confidential information do so at the risk of disciplinary action or termination of employment/volunteer assignment.
- Respect copyright and fair use laws: Always be aware of the copyright and intellectual property rights of others and of the APDT. You must also respect all other laws that might pertain to a posting, including laws against harassment, discrimination and defamation.
- Do not use the APDT name or logos for endorsements: Do not use the APDT name or logo or any other names and logos affiliated with the APDT (Rally, C.L.A.S.S., etc.) on personal social media sites without the express written permission of the APDT Executive Director or Director of Communications. Do not use the APDT’s name to promote any product, cause, organization or political parties, candidates or positions.
- Respect privacy: Do not reference any staff member, volunteer, board member, member of the association, partner or vendor without their prior permission.
- Use proper conduct: Make sure that your postings online are consistent with the policies outlined in the APDT Employee Handbook.
- Terms of service: Make sure that you explicitly obey the Terms of Service of any social media platform you use.
II: Best Practices
This section covers anyone who is posting for the APDT on a social media site in an official capacity. We encourage anyone posting however to review and follow these guidelines.
- Give your post some thought prior to posting: Always be aware of the fact that there is no privacy on the Internet. Once you post something, in most cases you cannot erase it – posts can be forwarded quickly and proliferate throughout the Intranet in a matter of moments and can stay on the Internet for years. They can also be printed, copied or saved to personal computers. Think twice before posting something that may be controversial or lead to heightened emotions. Your post may reflect badly on the association and the membership. A general rule to follow is to only say things in a post that you would be willing to say to the media or at a conference or to the membership face-to-face. If you are uncertain about a post, please review it with the Executive Director or Director of Communications.
- Use common sense: Avoid posting anything that would reflect negatively on the APDT or embarrass the association. This can include posts about sexual situations, off-color humor, racial or ethnic slurs, drug and alcohol use, political statements, personal insults, or anything that would generally be considered unacceptable in the workplace.
- Check your facts first: Always make sure what you post is factually correct. If you are unsure – don’t post! Make sure that you review your post for spelling and grammar as well.
- Respect is key: Realize that comments and posts on a social media site often can be heated and involve conflicting ideas and viewpoints. Always respect your audience and think carefully about how your respond. Remember that your responses will reflect back on the association.
- Know your audience: Consider when posting who will be your reader. It may not be just APDT members, but other trainers, the public, veterinarians, other pet service providers, competing organizations, the media, and more. Make sure that whatever you post does not alienate or provoke any of these groups and damage the APDT’s reputation.
- Personal web sites: If you are posting on your own personal site, please make sure you clearly state that your views are your own and do not necessarily represent the views of the APDT. An example of an acceptable statement to include would be “The postings on this web site are based on my personal thoughts and opinions, and do not necessarily represent the APDT’s positions or opinions.” If you are in fact posting something that is official APDT business, make sure that you have authorization from the Executive Director or Director of Communications to post statements on behalf of the APDT.
- Photos and videos: Do not post any photos or videos that you do not have permission to post. You can contact the APDT office to get a video/photo release form that gives written permission from the photographer/photographee/videographer/videographee to have the photos and/or videos posted.
- Link back to the APDT: Whenever possible, link back to the APDT web site or other APDT sponsored sites such as the C.L.A.S.S., Train Your Dog Month or Foundation web sites.
- Protect the Association’s “voice:” Posts on social media sites should protect the APDT’s voice by demonstrating a professional tone. Never post anything that is defamatory, in bad taste, or that would cause the association harm to its reputation.