Watch Your Words

A few definitions:

Libel– Printed falsehood
Slander– False oral statement
Defamation (A collective term for libel & slander) – Any false statement about a person (or organization) that creates public hatred, contempt, ridicule, or inflicts injury or reputation

To prove defamation:

1) False statement was communicated to others through print, broadcast, or electronic means
2) The person was identified or is identifiable
3) There is actual injury in the form of money losses, loss of reputation, or mental suffering
4) The person making the statement was malicious or negligent

Although all four of the above factors must be present in order for a lawsuit to be filed, as a PR practitioner you must always be concerned and cautious of how you are using your words. Statements (either spoken or written) should always be truthful, with factual evidence and scientific demonstration available to substantiate them.

*Information taken from
Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics
D. Wilcox, G. Cameron, P. Ault, W. Agee
8th Edition 2007

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