Contact With the Media Handbook Statement
Author: Amy E. Mendenhall, Marissa L. Dragoo, Corinn Jackson, and Judith A. Paulson, Littler
When to Include
Employers should consider including this statement in their handbook to help ensure proper handling of media requests and communicate how such requests should be handled by employees.
Customizable Handbook Statement
Contact With the Media
To ensure that the Company communicates with the media in a consistent, timely and professional manner about matters related to the Company, employees should notify [insert name/contact details for appropriate company representative or department] whenever they are contacted by the media and asked to speak on behalf of the Company so that the Company knows that a media inquiry has been made. Do not respond to media inquiries on the Company's behalf without authorization. This rule does not prevent employees from speaking with the media, but they should not attempt to speak on behalf of the Company unless they have specifically been authorized to do so by an officer of the Company.
Guidance for Employers
- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken the position that blanket policies instructing employees to not speak to the media or to obtain prior authorization before doing so are unlawful because they could lead employees to think they are prohibited from communicating to the public about an ongoing labor dispute, their terms and conditions of employment, or other activity protected under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
- While employers may lawfully control who makes official statements for them, they must ensure that the rules cannot be read to prevent employees from speaking to the media or others on their own behalf or for their co-workers. Consult with legal counsel to ensure that policies regarding statements to the media avoid these kinds of broad prohibitions. Employers may also consider including a statement stating that the policy is not intended to limit employee communications that are protected under federal and state law, including Section 7 of the NLRA.
- Identify the company's authorized media contact and ensure all employees know how to respond to requests to speak to the media on the company's behalf.
- Train employees and supervisors to refer covered media inquiries to the properly authorized person or department.