With Rise of Social Web, Almost Every Company Must Now Consider Itself a Media Player

Coverage for libel—once just a concern of newspapers, magazines and broadcasters— becomes an across-the-board concern for everyone from retailers to financial services

One of the fundamental business changes wrought by the Web and the explosion of digital commerce and social networking is that essentially every large company is now a major creator of content.

“These days, everybody is a publisher,” observes Lou Scimecca, vice president and media product manager for Axis Pro, a business unit of Axis Insurance.

Consumer-product companies are building massive, online-magazine-like sites dedicated to topics such as health and parenting. Videos, blogs and tweets are now standard parts of almost every company’s marketing and messaging mission, whether they are in retail, manufacturing, financial services, technology, professional services or almost any other industry.

While this content explosion is generally viewed as a positive development—or at least one in which companies have no choice but to participate—it does raise very real liability issues of the sort that once only traditional media companies had to worry about.

“These companies are not traditional publishers, so they most likely do not have a robust policy to address libel, slander and those types of concerns,” observes Kevin Kalinich, global practice leader for Cyber Liability with Aon Corp.

For producers and carriers looking for new exposures in need of coverage, selling “old media” libel policies to the legions of new-media players could be an area ripe for growth.

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