BY: JESSICA GUTMAN
As an employer, should you find job applicants on social media? Should you accept friend requests from current employees? How should you handle online and physical harassment claims from employees?
Chris McCarty, attorney at Lewis Thomason, covered these topics and more during a lively, open discussion at the American Marketing Association Knoxville’s April luncheon, titled: “From Friending to Firing: Social Media’s Impact on Employment.”
When searching for job applicants or current employees on social media, McCarty said there are pros, cons and legalities to consider.
“You can find out things you could never ask in an interview, including their age or family status,” he said. “You can also see their social life habits to determine how responsible they are. Anything that is publicly posted is fair game.”
However, searching for an applicant’s social media accounts may also cause negative bias against them. For example, if a job candidate is pregnant and posts that information on social media, an employer may be less likely to hire them given insurance costs and future time off.
When accepting friend requests from employees, McCarty said employers should consider their industry and office culture, and that there are always risks involved. He also informed attendees that as an employer it is illegal in the state of Tennessee to force employees to be friends with you on Facebook.
In regard to employment and social media endorsements, McCarty explained the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) endorsement guidelines.
“You can’t have a material connection to what you’re endorsing without disclosing the connection in a clear and conspicuous way,” he said. “Material connections include employment.”
This means employees endorsing their company’s products or services on social media must also disclose that they are employed there. This includes a public employment listing on Facebook or mentioning it in a Twitter or Instagram bio.
He cited an incident in 2017 in which the FTC sent out more than 90 letters to celebrities, athletes and other influencers reminding them to clearly and conspicuously disclose relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products through social media.
“It’s the same if you work for a hotel and post on Facebook, ‘this the best hotel ever, you should stay here,’” McCarty said. “You must disclose that you work for the hotel because you have a material connection. It’s the law.”
He also said employers must be cognizant of employees’ rights to express themselves online, especially about working conditions.
“Employees are not forbidden from talking publicly about working conditions on social media,” McCarty explained. “This includes pay, benefits, break times and OSHA concerns.”
This protection falls under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which states, “Employees have the right to unionize, to join together to advance their interests as employees, and to refrain from such activity. It is unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights.”
Lastly, McCarty covered a popular topic in today’s society: harassment in the workplace. He said to be aware that proper workplace boundaries apply offline and online.
He said, “If someone is uncomfortable in a workplace setting because of something happening online, it cannot be ignored by the company.”
To learn more about these topics, visit FTC.gov or EEOC.gov.
BY ANNA HUGHES
February’s AMA Knoxville meeting took place after hours at Hexagon Brewing Company on Feb. 21, 2018. With beer in hand, Co-owner Matt McMillan walked the audience through his experiences of starting the brewery with his business partner, Stephen Apking.
The Hexagon Story
The business started out with the name Underground, which came from Stephen’s method of brewing the beer under his porch. He quickly ran into the issue of “Underground” already being used by another brewing company.
Rather than fight to keep the name, Stephen and Matt decided to move on and find something more unique to their story. Through the process of trial and error, the two came up with the name “Hexagon,” which has many interesting ties to the duo.
Stephen was an avid beekeeper, which of course includes the hexagonal honey comb structure. Also, while looking through some of his grandfather’s old bamboo fly rods, Stephen came across an autographed book from the maker of the rods. Stephen came across a passage about how the rods were constructed using a hexagonal structure. He took this as a sign from his grandfather, and the name Hexagon was chosen.
The Hexagon Mission & Brand
Hexagon strives to focus on local partnerships. This has led them to partner with many local chefs, restaurants and foods trucks. He explained that ties between food and beer are “ever more prevalent, especially with the demographics that we are selling in.”
People want both great food and great beer. In order to cater to its market, Hexagon is working on building a small kitchen on site to provide food to patrons, in addition to the free popcorn that is already offered.
Hexagon differentiates its brand by focusing on quality and unique flavors. Matt explained their success in the craft beer business by saying, “We’re excited to be alive and making great beer.”
He is not only involved in Hexagon’s business, he is also on his fifth year of coordinating the Knoxville Brew Fest. He is also heavily active in the Knoxville Area Brewer’s Association (KABA). This group, which started in 2015, is a collection of breweries, retailers and individuals in the industry. This group helps to “define the landscape of the craft beer culture in Knoxville.”
In order to better promote the industry and “cater to locals and tourists alike,” KABA produced a map of all breweries in Knoxville in partnership with Visit Knoxville, known as the Knoxville Ale Trail. Matt explained this as a great way for Hexagon and other breweries to market themselves in the area.
Knoxville’s craft beer culture has grown from being well under the average number of breweries three years ago to 20 breweries today. Matt stressed the benefits of the craft beer industry to the local economy. By catering to their demographics and working in collaboration with other local breweries, they are able to grow the craft beer culture in Knoxville while also growing the local economy.
The AMA Knoxville event concluded with a tour of Hexagon’s impressive brewing facility.
AMA Knoxville hosted its February Program at Hexagon Brewing Co. The event concluded with an exclusive tour of its impressive brewing facility.
BY: ANNA HUGHES, DIGITAL CONTENT SPECIALIST
AMA Knoxville’s January Luncheon, hosted at The Square Room in Market Square, was a great start to 2018! Joseph Nother, executive creative director and founder of Designsensory, guided the attendees through his team’s journey to brand Knoxville as “The Maker City.”
On the eve of Designsensory’s 16th anniversary, the team decided they want to give back to their community and approached Knoxville leadership in search of public work that aligned with this theme. When the city pitched the idea of branding Knoxville, the team immediately said yes, stating that this was something that they could “sink their teeth into.”
“It was wonderful to see the city and the mayor and those in public office see this as something important,” Nother said. “I think we should all look at that and be proud of the leadership and what they’re trying to do.”
Nother and his team began their eight-month journey by first outlining the Maker Movement and decided it uniquely applies to the Knoxville community. Ultimately, the Maker Movement was defined as an “umbrella term for individual inventors, designers, and tinkerers that tap into an American admiration for self-reliance…”
When describing the “why” behind their creative process, Nother explained, “More and more people want a more meaningful consumptive experience.” Trends like localism stem from “the desire to infuse meaningfulness in the consumptive actions and behavior that we have, so it is not so transactional.”
“The future of Knoxville’s economic success belongs to individual innovators and artisans,” he said.
Inspired by Knoxville being named as Etsy’s first “Maker City,” Nother and his team wanted to expand on the idea of localism and meaningfulness. As Nother explained, “branding is essentially short for meaningfulness.” Their job at this point was to capitalize on the meaningfulness of the Maker Movement in the Knoxville community.
The Designsensory team set to define Knoxville’s niche in a “sea of ambiguity” that surrounds the Maker Movement. Through an extensive trial-and-error process, the team strived to name and define the movement that represents the collective. Eventually, they decided on a name and idea that is “broad and representational” as to not “lose people and their relationship to the movement.”
Moving on to the visual identity, Nother and his team wanted to channel the look and vibe of the Knoxville area. They began by developing a universal design that appealed to everyone in the Maker Movement, both businesses and individual tinkerers. By creating flexible brand guidelines, they created a system that allows Knoxville natives to adapt the logo to their unique and diverse needs. In the end, Designsensory was able to create a “unified vision” that successfully encompasses the entirety of the Maker Movement in the Knoxville community.
On Nov. 8, Courtney Jernigan, owner of Knoxville Graphic House, led a dynamic presentation for AMA Knoxville’s November luncheon. She discussed marketing to Millennials and developing out-of-the-box branding strategies to stand out in today’s market. With over 50 people in attendance, the luncheon was highly engaging and informative.
Wish you hadn’t missed out? Check out Courtney’s entire presentation:
Marketing to Millennials Presentation
There are a lot of negative adjectives describing the Millennial generation. In fact, it makes Millennials not even want to be Millennials! But where are these labels coming from? Generation X & Y, the Baby Boomers? Studies have shown that Millennials are all about change. That is not said for the generations before them. When you have a group that was born into creative technology like the Millennials you better believe they are going to think and act differently. But instead of labeling and cringing at a culture built on expressing themselves, let’s dive in and understand why they act and react they way they do. After all, there is money to be made.