Communications and Safeguards for the Personal Information of Members

by Michael D. Dalzell, Communications Ministry Team

Earlier this year, the Board of Trustees passed four policies originated by the Communications Ministry Team to provide common-sense privacy guidelines for UUCWC communications. Each is described below, and they are particularly important for anyone who posts information to UUCWC’s website or social media pages.

Respecting your privacy

The policy on Photography and Publicity Releases is designed to respect the privacy wishes of each member of our congregation. In short, the policy says that if a person’s name, photo, or other identifying information is used in any of UUCWC’s public communication platforms, the church must have permission from that person on file.

A public communication platform means anything that can be seen outside of UUCWC, including:

The permission requirement does not apply to closed Facebook pages, administered by smaller groups within the church because posts on those pages are only visible to admitted group members.

Here are the ways to grant permission for public use of identifying information.

  • New members — Check off the box on the new-member intake forms or fill out a downloadable permission form from the UUCWC website and leave in the office Communications mailbox. The form explains the different types of permission you can grant for you and your children under age 18 as a parent or legal guardian.
  • Current members — Communications maintains a list, currently about 150 names, of those who have granted permission. If you signed a blanket permission form in the past, then it is still in force. Under the new formal policy, Communications will be contacting members about their privacy wishes. We plan to make this list available to members and provide access to it in early 2018. Because of the legal implications of privacy, once the list is accessible to members, there can be no exceptions. It is especially important to have a signed release on file for posts to our website or to public Facebook pages.

Website, social media, news organizations

Complying with the Photography and Publicity Release Policy (having signed releases on file) is integral to following the other three new Communications policies.

The Social Media Policy replaces the previous Facebook policy and sets standards for creation of social media pages under UUCWC’s name. The policy also provides guidelines for communication on Facebook and other social media pages under the church’s name, defines authority for moderators of those pages, and provides a path for resolution of incidents on UUCWC social media pages that do not conform to our Covenant of Right Relations.

The Website Policy describes Communications’ role in maintaining the site; the role of committee chairs and other church leaders in populating the site with content; and guidelines on projecting a professional image of the church consistent with our mission and Covenant of Right Relations. Committee chairs and other church leaders are strongly encouraged to keep members informed of activities through our website, demonstrating to others who search the web for a spiritual home that we are a vibrant, active congregation. (Instructions for posting information to the website can be found here.)

Finally, the Media Relations Policy establishes authority for proactive and reactive communication on behalf of the church with news organizations and other external media. The policy specifies who may represent the church when speaking to external media in the event of an emergency or other incident that results in media queries to the church. The policy also describes how groups within the church that wish to send a press release to the media may enlist Communications’ assistance in doing so.

Please take time to review these documents. Importantly, watch for future information about how to access the permission-for-publicity list when it becomes available. Remember that board-approved policies provide high-level guidelines on matters of governance, rather than detailed procedures or requirements for following policies. Please contact Communications with any questions on procedure (