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Hiring an Amateur Could Mean a Potential Lawsuit for Your Business

These days, everyone's looking to save a buck. But if you plan to cut corners by using a fledgling copywriter or marketer, expect to put the money you just saved towards a really good lawyer. Because you may just find yourself in court.

Lawsuits abound in today's world. Lots of people are more than willing to sue at the drop of a hat. No one wants to think that they "know" anyone like this, but the truth is, this planet is crawling with lawsuit-happy consumers who can make your life a living hell. You may think, "Oh, I'm just a small start-up; no one would bother trying to get money out of me!" But do you know this for a fact? Even if you're miniscule now, you want to grow your business. With any luck, one day you'll be earning more than just a comfortable living. The best way to ensure your legal protection in the future is to start practicing caution today.

How does this relate to your advertising, and who you hire to work for you? Every bit of written material put out by your company is a statement issued by you. If you hire someone who has little to no experience in the real world, you'd better be on top of them at all times. You'd better make sure that what they're creating for your company doesn't contain any legal "loopholes" or claims you can't fulfill. Because as soon as your advertising makes a statement about anything, someone will try and hold you responsible. They might even seek legal counsel on the matter. Yes, what you say can and will be held against you in a court of law.

I worked for the "R"Us family of stores for seven years, writing and editing everything from catalog copy to sales promotions to coupons to informative marketing mailers. Nearly everything said in our ads was supported by a legal disclaimer that prevented the company from being held responsible for any "unforseen events" that might occur as an indirect result of our statements. At the time, these legalities posed a great annoyance to our department, slowing down progress and hampering creativity. But today, I'm incredibly grateful for the "extensive legal training" I received while working there.

What are some examples of loose-lipped writing that can land you in legal hot water? What situations might you get yourself into in today's fast-paced, maximum-output world of marketers?

E-books are hot right now. Everyone wants one, and they want it yesterday. But beware the trouble of an untrained eye taking control of your e-book content! Last year, I worked for a small start-up company. They wanted an e-book written fast, so they hired an unpaid intern. Although the e-book served its purpose well, it was riddled with statements that could get us in trouble! Why? Our e-book was for children. In it, we had included a long list of ways kids could spread holiday cheer. One entry was something to the effect of, "Offer to help your neighbor carry in the groceries." Innocuous as it may seem, the end result of this remark could be some parent taking us to court because their child went out and tried to assist some unsavory character, and was abducted in the process! Heaven forbid, but nothing's impossible. In our e-book, we took care to state "Never do anything without first asking permission from your parents" - many times, and in many ways.

Article content: seems like everyone wants it in mass quantities. But how smart is it to hire a wet-behind-the-ears intern to write pages and pages of information and then publish it under your company name? One little slip-up, and guess who's getting a subpoena in the mail. Not the intern! I recently wrote an article on credit card debt elimination. As I was crafting my copy, I kept stumbling over "red flag" statements that could prove troublesome. "Some debt consolidation companies may even be able to erase the interest fees you've accrued." Was that true?? If it wasn't, somebody might be getting an earful down the road. It's difficult to know what information found on the internet is accurate, or just somebody's assertion. If you're not sure - disclaim! Or, simply avoid commenting.

Coupons and limited time offers that aren't properly disclaimed can cost you money. Say you run a sale on your website, but you forget to include start and end dates. If the sale prices are valid in January but you don't tell your customers, someone could very well come along and demand a discount in May! Or what if you post an ad for your business offering 50% off all design jobs but you forget to exclude the really high-end projects? You could find yourself working on an extensive web-design job that's only bringing in five hundred dollars when it could have made you a thousand!

What about your return policy? You want to be known as a company with its customers' best interest in mind - but what if your return policy is so open-ended, it leaves you vulnerable to excessive returns, when in fact there is really nothing wrong with what you offer? I worked for an e-greeting company this summer. How is an e-greeting company supposed to guarantee "customer satisfaction?" It's not possible! So, in such a case, a statement like this has to go. Would a newborn to the industry have the foresight to make such decisions? My guess is no.

Do you sell products via the web? Anything that poses a safety threat should be disclaimed to avoid future legal headaches and thousands of dollars lost. Everything from over-the-counter drugs to children's products to baby clothes to automobile parts to finances must be shielded from potential legal action. Never thought about legal ramifications? Best to get an expert's advice before going forward with your business plan.

Still thinking of hiring a novice to help you run your business? Think again. A little extra money spent now can mean a ton of money saved later. Hire a copywriter or marketer with corporate experience, who will exercise legal caution in your business writing and provide financial security for your future. Who knows... you may never even need that lawyer.

Copyright 2005 Dina Giolitto. All rights reserved.

Dina Giolitto is a New-Jersey based Copywriting Consultant with nine years' industry experience. Her current focus is web content and web marketing for a multitude of products and services although the bulk of her experience lies in retail for big-name companies like Toys"R"Us. Visit for rates and samples

Todays News by officejax free advertising and ad exchange solutionsMORE RESOURCES updated Sun. March / 18 / 2018

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Raising transparency in the online advertising ecosystem - Science Daily

Raising transparency in the online advertising ecosystem
Science Daily
'By raising end user trust and advertiser transparency, all stakeholders of the advertising ecosystem stand to benefit.' Arturo Azcorra, director of IMDEA Networks Institute (Madrid, Spain),one of ten consortium members that have collaborated in the ...

and more »

What Monkeys Can Teach Us about Advertising - Scientific American (blog)

Scientific American (blog)

What Monkeys Can Teach Us about Advertising
Scientific American (blog)
As early as the 1870s, companies like Pearl Tobacco and later, W. Duke & Sons, employed social advertising, showcasing nude or partially exposed women on posters and trading cards. Although the images had no direct link to the products, sales increased ...

Indiana Senate race generates most advertising in the nation - USA TODAY


Indiana Senate race generates most advertising in the nation
Still, GOP groups had aired nearly twice as many ads in Indiana through March 12 as Democratic groups, according to the Weslyan Media Project. Their report is based on data provided by Kantar Media/CMAG for broadcast television, national network and ...
Indiana Senate race generates most advertising in the countryIndianapolis Star

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Why Stopping Fraudulent Advertising On Television Before It Even Starts Is A Smart Idea - Forbes


Why Stopping Fraudulent Advertising On Television Before It Even Starts Is A Smart Idea
The litany of problems that surround digital advertising should be quite familiar to anyone in the media industry at this point. There's bot traffic creating fake views. Ads disappear “below the fold.” New problems crop up almost daily: Google's ...

and more »

Life after Ford: Top advertising man Toby Barlow launching new venture - Detroit Free Press

Detroit Free Press

Life after Ford: Top advertising man Toby Barlow launching new venture
Detroit Free Press
One of metro Detroit's best-known advertising and marketing gurus is launching a new venture a year after losing his role as one of Ford Motor's top ad guys. Toby Barlow left the WPP agency last February after spending 15 years with the organization ...

Raising transparency in the online advertising ecosystem - EurekAlert! - EurekAlert (press release)

EurekAlert (press release)

Raising transparency in the online advertising ecosystem - EurekAlert!
EurekAlert (press release)
The online advertising business, led by companies like Google or Facebook, generated over $200 billion revenue in 2017, with an interanual growth over 15 percent. This online advertising explosion is raising serious data privacy concerns.

and more »

Google Bans Bitcoin Advertisements in Policy Change - New York Times

New York Times

Google Bans Bitcoin Advertisements in Policy Change
New York Times
SAN FRANCISCO — Google is joining Facebook in banning advertising for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Google, the largest provider of digital advertising on the internet, announced on Tuesday that it plans to change its advertising policy for ...
Google's Advertisement Ban Is Bullish, Not Bearish, For Bitcoin ...Forbes
The Impact of Decentralization and Cryptocurrencies in Online AdvertisingMarTech Advisor
$60bn wiped from cryptocurrencies as Google confirms advertising banInternational Investment
The Independent -Google Support -CNBC
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Street art goes corporate: Inside the "art first" approach to outdoor advertising - CBS News

CBS News

Street art goes corporate: Inside the "art first" approach to outdoor advertising
CBS News
NEW YORK -- In cities around the country, street art attracts those looking for the perfect selfie backdrop. They are grand and intricate, colorful and sometimes controversial. And increasingly, they're selling something. Although advertising isn't ...

and more »

Dominion Post announces 2017 Advertising Executive of the Year - The Dominion Post

The Dominion Post

Dominion Post announces 2017 Advertising Executive of the Year
The Dominion Post
MORGANTOWN — The Dominion Post is proud to announce John Daniloski as 2017 Advertising Account Executive of the Year. Daniloski, a native of Gettysburg, Pa., has been employed with The Dominion Post since 2011 when he was hired as a customer service ...

Rihanna Condemns Snapchat's Offensive Advertisement: 'Shame on You' -

Rihanna Condemns Snapchat's Offensive Advertisement: 'Shame on You'
As a promotion for the mobile game Would You Rather?, the advertisement asked if the user would rather "slap Rihanna" or "punch Chris Brown." Snapchat had already released a public apology and removed the ad before Rihanna's comments. "I'd love to call ...
Rihanna accuses Snapchat of promoting domestic violence - CNNCNN
Rihanna condemns Snapchat for ad making light of domestic violenceThe Verge
Rihanna calls out Snapchat for tone-deaf ad that made light of domestic violenceTechCrunch
BBC News -Snap Inc. -Twitter
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