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Policy on Staff Use of Social Media

Social networking through the use of Internet-based and other electronic social media tools is integrated into everyday life.  Use of Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging, wikis and other online social media vehicles are commonplace. This document is intended to provide AIA staff with guidelines to eliminate any confusion concerning the use of social media.

Why a Policy
The lines between work and personal life can become blurred. In general, what you do on your own time is a personal decision. However, activities in or outside of work that affect your job performance, the performance of others, or AIA business interests are a proper focus for AIA policy.

Contributing to the online conversations about architecture and architects means being present where and when they are taking place. As technology tools enable an easy exchange with other professionals, governmental representatives, clients, and the public, we encourage you to share the insights and expertise gained through your work at the AIA. You can do so without first asking permission provided you read and follow the advice contained in this document.

Matter of Trust
Being able to share your and the AIA’s activities without prior management approval means the Institute trusts you to understand that by doing so you are accepting a higher level of risk for greater rewards. Each AIA staff member is personally responsible for the content he or she publishes on any form of social media. Be thoughtful about how you present yourself in online social networks.

You may have identified yourself as an AIA staff member or the AIA as your employer, either directly or as part of a user profile. If so, ensure your profile and related content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself to the AIA’s members and constituents, your business contacts, and your colleagues and peers.

Senior staff of the AIA have special responsibility with their Internet presence by virtue of their high profile position within the organization, even if they do not explicitly identify themselves as being affiliated with the AIA.  Such senior level staff should assume that his or her posts will be seen and read by AIA members, colleagues and reports, and that they will presumptively associate such posts with the AIA.

Trust is an essential ingredient in the constructive culture we are striving to achieve at the AIA. We can’t be there to guide every interaction, so we expect you to follow these guidelines and advice to help you better balance the risk vs. reward ratio.

What’s the Point?
The goal is to ensure the AIA voice is part of the larger conversation relating to the architecture profession and the AIA. But, don’t feel compelled to jump in before you understand the conversation and who is saying what. First, explore the topic being discussed, read about it and contribute only when you find something that adds or advances the discussion. Include an especially relevant link, since doing so further connects the AIA to the wider Web and can result in greater connectivity for the AIA.

Share Information Carefully
Keep in mind that posts are visible by all with online access. It may be fine to share your work at the AIA as part of your participation in the online community, etc., but you DO NOT have permission to reveal any information that compromises AIA policy or public positions.  By that we mean don’t share anything that is proprietary and/or confidential to the AIA. For example, it is not okay to share any content that required a non-disclosure agreement or is part of a confidential management or Board discussion. Keep in mind the following when considering whether to share AIA-related information:

  • Use common sense. You should refrain from posting items that could reflect negatively on the AIA or otherwise embarrass the organization, including comments or other posts about drug or alcohol abuse, profanity, off-color or sexual humor, and other inappropriate conduct. Don't use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not otherwise be acceptable in the AIA’s workplace.
  • Show proper respect for people’s privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory, like politics and religion.  
  • Respect the law, including those laws governing defamation, discrimination, harassment, and copyright and fair use.
  • Don’t use the AIA logo, unless specifically authorized to do so.
  • Don’t disclose the AIA’s (or anyone else’s) confidential or other proprietary information, such as current or anticipated products, software, research, inventions, processes, techniques, designs, or other technical data. Get permission from the owner prior to sharing or publishing their intellectual property Ask permission to publish or report on meetings or conversations that are meant to be internal to the AIA.
  • Don't reference AIA staff, members, partners or vendors without their approval.
  • If you publish content to any website outside of the AIA and it has something to do with work you do or subjects associated with AIA, use a disclaimer such as this: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent the AIA's positions, strategies, or opinions.”  If what you are publishing is, in fact, AIA official business, be sure that that you are authorized to make such statements on behalf of the organization.  If there is any doubt, check with your supervisor.
  • Ensure that your social networking conduct is consistent with the all policies contained in the AIA’s Employee Handbook, including Antitrust Compliance, Sexual Harassment, Confidentiality and Disclosure, and Use of AIA Equipment and Services.
  • Make sure that your online activities do not interfere with your job performance.

Respecting differences, appreciating the diversity of opinions and speaking or conducting yourself in a professional manner is expected at all times. If you aren’t completely confident about what you intend to share, you should seek management input before you post.

Understand You Represent the AIA
As in all interactions whether in the built or virtual environment, you are a representative of the AIA.  As a representative of the Institute, your positions must be in-line with AIA policies and positions. Review the AIA Directory of Public Policy and Position Statements posted on AIA.org.

Media and Subject Matter Expertise
As you become known as an expert in your area, it is still required that you be designated as an AIA media spokesperson on the topic or issue in order to interact with the media. See the AIA Media Relations policy found on AIA Insider and in the AIA Staff Handbook for how to handle inquires from the media.

Creative Writing Is Encouraged
Cogent, interesting writing requires an investment of time, even when you know a lot about the subject. Chances are your deep knowledge will make your comments more interesting to read, and, by Web standards, your writings could become popular, if only to others who share your particular interest.

But, unless you limit your postings to fact-only reports, you may choose to reveal more of your personality as a way to build reader interest. Almost everyone posting to online communities writes about themselves, their interests, experiences, and social interactions. People like to know these additional details about you as a way to develop a greater appreciation of your point of view. But, the Web is a public venue and you should be careful not to embarrass yourself, the AIA, and other members of the online community.

Good Writing Basics
The value of your great idea suffers to the extent that you allow misspelled words and bad grammar. And, if you cannot be succinct, at least be complete and accurate. If you know these are areas where you could improve, seek out advice from those for whom these are strengths. It takes time to write in a concise manner, but it is worth the effort to improve upon your first draft.

Stick to What You Know
It’s another basic tenant of writing: write what you know. That way, you increase the likelihood that you will be interesting, but, as important, you minimize the chances for damaging your credibility. You may know a lot about your function or special project, but, if you criticize some other AIA function or decision without knowing all of the relevant background, there’s a good chance that you will be “corrected” by the actual expert.

Be Sensitive to Antitrust Issues
There are stringent requirements by the AIA that you comply with antitrust laws. What’s antitrust? Antitrust laws promote vigorous competition and protect consumers from anticompetitive business practices.

The AIA complies with all laws, including federal and state antitrust laws that apply to AIA operations and activities. Compliance with the letter and spirit of the antitrust laws is an important goal of the AIA and is essential to maintaining the Institute’s reputation for the highest standards of ethical conduct. Since you are involved in the AIA’s operations and activities, you are responsible for understanding and observing these policies. Refer to the AIA Staff Handbook for more details on the AIA’s compliance with antitrust requirements.  And don’t hesitate to ask the AIA General Counsel’s Office for guidance on compliance with antitrust or any other laws. 

 

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