Reed Smith partner John Hines recently hosted in our Chicago office a panel discussion on the topic of “Managing Social Media Risks, What your Company Needs to Know.” John and some of his Reed Smith colleagues were joined by Blair Klein, Director of Emerging Communications for AT&T, and Brent Franson of and CEO of the newly formed Online Reputation Management Association. In addition to Blair and Brent, the panel consisted Sarah Wolff, Carolyn Rosenberg and Jim Burns of Reed Smith. Sarah, Jim and Carolyn did a fantastic job in imparting their practical wisdom relating to insurance, public companies and the SEC, employment, and the new FTC guidelines. Blair spoke about some of the interesting internal social media sites that AT&T has created to capture employee ideas and creativity, and Brent fielded a series of questions and issues relative to reputation management. The feedback from the event has been very positive.

In addition, on March 4, John Hines was a featured speaker on social media at a general session of the 2010 AT&T Legal Conference, a four-day conference in Dallas attended by 550 AT&T lawyers worldwide and other AT&T managers. John’s presentation focused on “The Threat and Promise of Social Media,” namely:

The Threat: it’s viral, its transparent, self-correction often doesn’t work (Cass Sunstein–OMB), permanence/infinite searchability; data capture and spread is, according to some, “out of control.” Our personal and corporate reputations are in the hands of others; everyone is in the ratings game; etc.

The Promise: huge opportunities to leverage good messages; power to harness collective intelligence; Rifkin new book–The Empathic Civilization: Showing Connectivity is a Basic Human Desire–social media is a model to solve really big problems like energy sharing, etc.; new IP models, crowd sourcing, open source, creative commons; wikis; virtual worlds; etc.

John has graciously provided us with a copy of his AT&T Deck. If you have any questions about the Deck or how social media may be affecting your company, please contact John Hines, Doug Wood or your local Reed Smith attorney.