NZ guide to managing on-line reputation risk

A good reputation can be destroyed in minutes.  Thanks to the internet and social media, there are now not just more ways to damage reputations, but the bad news will travel faster and further.

The easiest way not to damage a reputation is to not be evil or stupid and to think before going public. It may pay not to tweet when drunk or tired and, in any case, to pause before hitting the send button. Don’t even attempt to tell off-colour jokes in front of people you don’t know and, never, ever do that kind of thing on broadcast television or radio.

You can find more comprehensive advice on the legal aspects of how not to look like a complete bastard or a stupid prat in Tracey Walker’s book Reputation Matters.

I was at the launch last night at Simpson Grierson and managed to have a quick read of a few pages. Three things impressed me:

First, the book is bang up to date. The News Limited phone hacking scandal is a case study. It is also bang up to date in covering the latest social media technologies.

Second, Walker may be a lawyer and this may be a legal guide, but she writes in plain English. The parts I read could even be described as engaging. That’s not how I remember law books.  More to the point, its non-intimidating approach makes it a must-have title for every company communications department and public relations professional.

Third, it isn’t about theory, this book is about practice. There are flow charts, lists and diagrams to help you get quickly to the most important points. That’s something you may need to do in a hurry once the reputation. You’ll probably need to call a lawyer too.

At $110 plus GST the book isn’t cheap, but nor is losing your reputation.

IT job advertisements hire for the past

A Gartner report says today’s recycled IT job advertisements aren’t going to attract the “innovative, flexible and engaged thinkers” organisations need to survive. The problem is recruiters list the technical skills they are looking for without considering other matters such as whether an employee will fit into the project or the workplace.

Read more in Jennifer Foreshew’s  IT job advertisements hire for the past at Australian IT.

Wasteline test your writing

Helen Sword’s Wasteline Test is a great online writing improvement tool.

You cut and paste your writing into a box, hit the button and the software scans your words.

The Wasteline Test counts and highlights the weak verbs, abstract nouns, prepositions, adjectives, adverbs and waste words. It then gives you a ranking from lean, through fit and trim all the way up to heart attack.

New Zealand academic Sword designed her test to help university students improve their writing skills. She has also written a book, The Writer’s Diet.

The Wasteline Test works just as well for most types of writing..

Johnny Moore’s tyranny of the explicit

Marketing consultant Johnny Moore writes about “a creeping extension of the need for academic qualifications, the ability to write clever essays” in The Tyranny of the Explicit.

He says:

The intention is good, but the practical effect is to engulf people in explicit, complicated systems and reduce their freedom – based on an unconscious assumption that everyone is not to be trusted. We give ascendancy to people who are really great at theory and effectively degrade practice. I think its rooted in the idea that one person or a group of people can effectively oversee a system and control how it works with written instructions.

One aspect of this is the arse-covering qualifications provide. If, say, a marketing manager hires a copywriter with a degree in copy-writing, they feel they are not to blame if the writer fails to deliver.

There’s an incentive in most organisations to engage the best-qualified person for a task, not the most experienced, best skilled or highest performer.

10 things you may not know about listening


Listening is an underrated skill. And make no mistake, it is a skill. Dan Erwin looks at some researched-based facts about listening in:

Brainware – 10 Things You May Not Know About Listening.

In my experience, it is important to give people your full attention when listening, although this is hard in today’s world where there are so many interruptions. I think the people I’ve worked with know if I want to hear what they have to say I’ll take them away from the work place – either to a quiet room, or better still a café.

The other important listening strategy is to put people at ease, then get them to talk about them. Their lives, their feelings and their ideas. I guarantee if you can do this, you’ll learn more.