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IP Quick Intellect

Here’s why anyone affiliated with your online brand is a reputational risk

Posted by on 27 Sep 2017

Your brand has embarked on a social media journey and so far, the response online has been positive. What happens though when someone affiliated with your brand throws a spanner in the works?

US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, experienced a wave of backlash recently when his wife, Louise Linton, responded passive aggressively (we’re sure you’ll appreciate the irony when you read the comment below) to a disgruntled Instagrammer.

In a photo capturing a flight to Kentucky, Louise wrote: “Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! “#nicest #people #beautiful #countryside #rolandmouret pants #tomford sunnies, #hermesscarf #valentinorockstudheels #valentino #usa”

Users commented on the use of hashtags to highlight high end brands that Louise was wearing as “deplorable” and “distasteful.” 

Louise’s reply has made international headlines for all the wrong reasons and the actress has subsequently had to issue an apology for her “highly insensitive” post where she questioned one detractor’s ability to contribute as much in taxes and time as Louise and Steven have.

Given that Steven is in a role requiring a certain gravitas (Steven has a key role in White House efforts to overhaul the tax code and raise the debt ceiling), it’s likely that being overshadowed by an adorably out of touch Instagram post isn’t the image he wants projected – not to mention the potential of overshadowing his actual work.

So, how can you avoid a similar faux pas with your brand? Simply, through the development and implementation of social media guidelines.

Well-written social media guidelines allow you to communicate clearly and transparently with employees and other relevant stakeholders (such as your partner if you’re in a high profile role like Steven) about expectations and parameters of social media usage. Items typically covered include tone, use of a spokesperson and the appropriate way to respond to negative feedback (ahem, Louise).

Importantly, social media guidelines also provide boundaries to mitigate risk to your brand online so it’s important to consider rolling it out to ALL stakeholders involved in communicating about your brand that you have a direct relationship with – employees, suppliers, ambassadors, etc.

If you would like to speak with one of the lawyers in Coleman Greig's Brand Protection team, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us on 02 9895 9230, or via

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