If your company is producing online content for your website or social media, you will occasionally need to weigh in on a controversial subject. While this can be fraught with danger, it is sometimes necessary, and the right thing to do. The key is to bring up these issues in a way that is appropriate and constructive.
Below are some basic guidelines for editorial etiquette that you should follow when publishing on controversial subjects:
Know your Stuff
The most important rule in handling controversial topics is to know what you’re talking about. Only weigh in on controversial topics where you have some expertise or unique insights. For example, if you’re a healthcare provider, you should consider weighing in on the impacts of the Affordable Care Act. On the flip side, as a healthcare provider, your audience probably doesn’t expect you to have any valuable insights into the new tax code.
In addition, make sure you have plenty of research you can cite–such as studies, white papers, articles, etc.
Most everyone has an opinion about controversial subjects, so you can expect readers to feel strongly one way or another. If you’re writing an article on a controversial subject, the article should have a good degree of objectivity to it. Lay out the facts and cite your research. You can even quote other experts and authorities. That being said, don’t be afraid to share your interpretation of what it all means. After all, you’re an expert and that’s why people are reading this article.
Think it Through
Whenever you are publishing on a controversial subject, read the article over multiple times to make sure that it will be interpreted exactly the way you want. For example, humor can be an effective communications tool, but humor in an article about a controversial subject will probably be seen in poor taste. Also, consider the “ripples” your article might have on social media if it gets shared widely. Make sure you’re prepared to defend your position if needed.
For more helpful tips and insights about managing your publications and social media, contact our experts at Tucker/Hall.