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The company wants you to play PR rep–where do you draw the line?

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in Admin Pro Forum

Question: “I work at a very small customized apparel company. My manager recently asked us to put bumper stickers with our logo on our cars, say something good about us on our Facebook pages, and have a friend or someone in our families give a product of ours a positive review online. I don’t think I’ll be doing any of this, since I think the request crosses a line between work and personal life. The problem is, it might just be me who doesn’t follow the program. I need a way to defend my decision without seeming too harsh. Does anyone have an idea about what I should say?”  – Sydney, Customer Service and Fulfillment Specialist

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa November 22, 2013 at 9:14 am

Small companies have difficulty marketing their services due to a limited budget. Spending money on advertising is probably last on the list. Free publicity sounds great to him but just because he asked you, doesn’t mean you have to do it and he probably realizes that not employees will comply. If he does ask “where’s the bumper sticker,” you should take him aside and explain your feelings about work and personal life being separate. If he is a reasonable man, he will accept that and respect it too!

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Aja Rae November 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Ya tell your boss that if he wants to supply company owned vehicles for the company’s employees then he has every right to put bumper stickers on the car that’s leased under your firm’s name. Secondly if your firm has there own facebook page, then let t speak for itself, people will like it if they visit the page and like the product. Don’t get me wrong I’m all about business development but it seems your boss doesn’t understand his own weaknesses in the management dept, that’s what the marketing deprtments for! Also depending on the product, the company the sticker & logo, I think bumper stickers are distasteful especially putting one on my vehicle that would be there for as long I forget it’s there. Remind your boss some people don’t bother reading bumper stickers bc they usually don’t have any substance within the content, thAt’s why they’re on the bumper of the car…..now a nice lettered logo on the back window is a different story. But do this support your claims with research, a poll, a survey, citable evidence that clearly states his idea of “networking through social media forums” isn’t what he think it is.

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Theresa Kasel November 14, 2013 at 5:07 pm

You work for a company that needs sales and it kind of sounds like you don’t like your company! That’s not a good place to be.

If you don’t put bumper stickers on your car — don’t. Accept the bumper sticker but don’t use it. Or, if you are pressured, simply tape it to the inside of a back window so the logo faces out. (I don’t put bumper stickers for anything on my car.) Personally, I like window clings better.

I would not expect my family and friends to make up reviews on social media and shopping sites, but it they do have items from your company (and especially if they got them for free), it’s appropriate to ask them to give your company good reviews on the shopping sites and to make a positive comment about the company on social media.

You yourself need to be able to make positive comments about your company on social media. (Now you have a work-related reason to be on Facebook and Twitter during work hours.) If you can’t, you need to find a new job quickly.

You cannot work for a company that’s business is based on sales if you cannot support people buying the product(s) that you sell.

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Joyce November 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm

Don’t have a car so no bumpersticker, but I wouldn’t have a problem, displaying company logo items. I have no problem passing information out to family and friends in case they have a need or know someone who has a need, BUT that would be the end. I wouldn’t take advantage of folks and place them in an uncomfortable situation like the one you’re facing –”do I or don’t I”. I would volunteer to do certain things (offer what your’re comfortable with) and would state that I try to keep business and personal as separate as possible to avoid conflicts. What if you had some family or friends that have someone in the same business — drama — for you; for them? You should be entitled not to have to deal with that. Life can be hard enough without you making it tougher on yourself.

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Robin November 14, 2013 at 4:24 pm

This is a touchy situation but I don’t think any boss has the right to ask an employee to deface their vehicles with bumper stickers. I don’t like them, don’t have them, and would not put one on my car. Perhaps you could say something like “I like my job and working for you but I prefer to keep my vehicle bumper sticker free.” Also, I believe that if you do put a bumper sticker on your car for purposes of PR, your boss should be required to pay you mileage (IRS rate right now is $.565 per mile) whenever you are out and about, especially if it generates business for him/her.

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Constance November 14, 2013 at 4:22 pm

This is the world of social media now. Where previously you may have just proundly discussed your company at a cocktail party, now that discussion happens on social media–Facebook, Twitter, Vine, SnapChat, reddit. It’s also happening on recommendation engines like Amazon, FourSquare, Yelp, etc…

If you don’t put bumper stickers on your car, fine. If your niece really loves the customized apparel item you gave her from your company, and she puts bumper stickers on her car–give her the sticker to use. There’s no harm in “liking” your company on Facebook, or following them on Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media. You don’t necessarily have to comment or promote the company products–but if you do enjoy the culture of the company, you can comment in different ways. Like posting on Facebook about the great employee party, or how much fun the chairty team event was.

If you’d talk about it to your neighbors and friends, you are doing what they ask already–they’re simply asking you to expand that circle of friends that you are speaking with.

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