Should PR pros share their political views on Facebook?

Several pros weigh in, each with a different opinion.

I posted a simple status update on my Facebook profile this week:

The response was quite surprising. Sixty-seven people commented.

Remember, this is my personal page. I’m not a celebrity or political figure, just a guy with some friends on Facebook. And many of those 67 people left long, well-reasoned comments.

Clearly the post struck a chord with people. And obviously, it was timely.

As I suspected, people had all sorts of views. Here’s a smattering of some of the more interesting comments:

The “if someone chose not to work with me because of my political views, then I wouldn’t want to work with them” view was fairly common in the thread. But it’s a viewpoint that’s convenient, in some cases. What if you’re desperate for work? Are you going to stick with those guns? How far does that mentality go?

Note Jason Keath’s comment and Shelly Kramer’s response. This was another common theme. Many people say they simply don’t care; that politics trumps business success.

My response is why do we have to share our every thought—including our political viewpoints—on Facebook? Can’t we keep some beliefs to ourselves? I share a lot on Facebook—photos of my kids, ideas on our industry. But I don’t share my religious or political views. Does that mean I’m not committed to the cause?

I really liked this comment from Holly Jo, especially the quote at the end. Well said, Holly Jo.

Todd Defren has been fairly outspoken about his political views on Facebook, and I admire that about him. He stands up for what he believes in. It’s not for me, and I think it would cost me business, (later in the thread he said he believes his views have cost him business), but like I said, I admire people who do it well. He falls into that camp for me.

The front half of Jason Wolf’s comment sums up exactly where I fall on this. I don’t discuss politics with my clients face-to-face, so why would I do it on Facebook? I’m sure others on this thread discuss politics with clients, but I don’t. It’s a personal decision, but for me it feels a bit too risky (unless you’re absolutely positive you know someone’s political views before you start the discussion, and even then I probably wouldn’t do it).

Some folks, like Christopher Pollard, took the online reputation angle. I’m more of a blurry-line guy myself, but I know a lot of people compartmentalize their platforms the way Pollard suggests.

This is a prudent approach from Stephanie Smirnov, who keeps it pretty close to the vest, but does share with friends/clients she has chosen as “friends” on Facebook. (Also, I love the “shakes cane” reference at the end.)

As I said above, my personal decision is largely to not share my political views on Facebook. It’s too risky from a business point of view.

I do have strong beliefs, and I think I’m a pretty opinionated person. But just because I don’t share those beliefs publicly—which is what you’re doing on Facebook, let’s be honest—doesn’t mean they’re not extremely important to me.

I grew up in a house where my family didn’t talk about politics that much. I never really knew who my parents were voting for. They didn’t tell me, and I didn’t ask. That was our philosophy.

That’s the background I come at this with. My personal family view is a little different, but I largely keep most of my political views to myself (outside of a small group of family and friends).

What about you? If you work in the PR business, have you shared your political views with friends and family on Facebook this year? If yes, have you seen any backlash? Do you think it impacts you-and your firm’s-reputation or business?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Arik Hanson is principal of ACH Communications. A version of this article originally ran on his blog, Communications Conversations. (Image via)

Topics: PR

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