Practice "Measured Discretion" to Avoid Being Guilty by Association

Published: 02/19/2016

Any successful business owner can tell you that a company's messaging has as much to do with what it says as it does with what it doesn't say. That sentence was maddeningly complicated, so to put it another way: A business needs to produce positive content and avoid producing negative content. This article explains why.

Measured Discretion - We live in a skeptical and often cynical world. Most people are resistant to hyperbole. Enthusiasm is one thing, but it's easy to go too far, oversell your services, and be off-putting to prospective customers.

Consider this election year that we're presently experiencing in the United States: Think about how it bothers you when you hear a candidate "cross a line," overstate, or over-promise.

You have to be careful about the claims you make in business. You may believe that your company is the best in the world, in relation to its field, but it might not be prudent to make such a bold claim - even if you have hard numbers as evidence.

Don't say you're the best, just prove it.

Like it or not, we live in a culture that seems to thrill and thrive over scandals or even the least, little slip-up. A few weeks ago, some celebrity was announcing nominees for an upcoming awards show, and he mispronounced a nominee's name. Riveting, right? That headline remained "news" on that organization's website for half the day!

I still recall, some 26 years later, the stinging advice of a junior high friend who gave me the counsel, "Don't attract negative attention." Pretty wise for a 13-year-old...

Unless you're a circus owner, don't keep clowns in your tent. When you're writing your corporate blog - or allowing a guest writer to represent your company online - be sure the content is written with "measured discretion." This concept is akin to the popular phrase "quiet dignity." It just means being "respectable" or "being smart" in your approach.

We've once read writers who have either made outlandish assertions or unnecessarily provoked a backlash through inappropriate and inflammatory comments. But we only read them once.

Guilty by Association - Since this Knowledgebase blog is sort of a public relations public service announcement (or PR PSA), here is a bit of advice for your corporate social media accounts.

By way of preface, remember that in a court of law, at least in the U.S., one can be punished for a crime by being an accomplice (meaning, someone who didn't actually commit the crime but whose actions helped in some way).

When you're re-sharing other people's posts on Facebook or re-tweeting someone else's tweets on Twitter, remember that you don't have to be the original author for your organization to be saddled with some degree of attribution. So, to be clear, re-sharing something that someone else has previously shared is the same as placing your bold "stamp of approval" on it.

Sure, on your personal social media pages, do whatever you like. But if you're representing your business through its social media platforms, you must be very careful about the messages you're perpetuating in its name. You should even be careful about the individuals or organizations that your company follows.

Remember, in the realm of social media, it's very easy to be guilty by association.

If you have questions about appropriate messaging in your company's blogging and social media content, please contact Business Promotion today by emailing

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