Monday, December 12, 2011

Occupy Auckland Is Doing It Right

The main objection I hear from people about Occupy Auckland is ‘they aren’t doing it right’. 

They aren’t doing what right?

Supposedly, there is a certain way that you do protests and they aren’t abiding by what people are used to seeing so it must be a bad thing. 

There is no leader!

There are no demands!

They all have different agendas!

Who will think of the grass!

The global Occupy movements are redefining what it means to protest. The rules of engagement are changing and that’s why authorities are getting so frustrated by it. 

Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt touched on this in his Le Web address. Online communities are redefining society and the way that people organise and interact with each other.  The way that the government structures society is not necessarily how people want things to look any more. To me, Occupy is a wonderful symptom of global change in civil rights and the power of the individual-fuelled by the Internet. 

The  fact that it doesn’t follow Protesting For Dummies 101 is what makes it so powerful and why we should all be paying attention and not writing protesters off as a bunch of unemployed deadbeats. 

But what do they want?

People asking what they want are actually asking ‘how do we make them go away?’

Because they haven’t specified what they want, Occupy can’t be drawn in to a negotiation they will lose. Sounds a bit backwards but it’s also quite clever. They are actually getting more attention and conversation because the authorities are working off an old rule book. 

So what’s the solution?

Leave them alone. Yes monitor them and make sure it’s hygienic and safe and all that but the security levels I’ve seen in Aotea Square are no more than what you see on a boozy Friday night with drunk teenagers. Surely, this is a more worthy cause and most certainly a more significant story in world history.  

It has definately made me think about what things are important in life and what type of society I want to live in. One without poverty is pretty high on the list. More power to them. 

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thank For Your Feedback (Arsehole)


One of the most important things you can learn is how to give feedback properly 

When I say properly, I actually mean ‘without being a complete arsehole and having everyone hate you.’

As a recovered (recovering?) blunt, scathing, insensitive giver of feedback, I will now pass on the ‘Wisdom I Have Learned.’ (alternative title: The Wisdom Of Arseholes’). 

Wisdom One: There is a Transactional Outcome and an Emotional Outcome

One of the best sales lessons I learned early on was that that there are two outcomes: a transactional outcome and an emotional outcome. 
The transactional outcome is getting what you want. The emotional outcome is getting people to a win-win where they want to deal with you again. Most people focus on the transactional outcome and ignore the emotional bit.  If you have to stomp all over people and be a dick and have a tantrum; you’ve lost. Always be aware of the emotional temperature around you. 

Wisdom Two: The Two Thirds Rule
(I think this is a Jack Welch thing but he probably nicked it from someone else so I can’t be bothered attributing it properly).

Basically, when you’re giving feedback, say two positive things and one ‘constructive’ thing. 

E.g. “That was a fast turnaround. Thanks for doing it so quickly. I think we’re nearly there. We may just not be able to use a naked picture of Lindsay Lohan for our Christmas cards this time year. Can you please take another look at the creative and maybe stick to Santas and reindeers. ”

Always start with the positive first and make a big deal about it. It’s easy to find fault and criticise. 

Wisdom Three: It’s Never OK to Scribble Crap All over Other People’s Work

I once had an adland creative spazz out at me because I scribbled all over the proofs with a black Sharpie pen. There were arrows and lines and asterisks and scribbles. He was furious. In hindsight, he was right. It is disrespectful to other people’s work. I now get very stabby when I get feedback in the form of dramatic pen slashes, giant question marks (you might as well just write ‘WTF?’ on my work) and huge chunks of angry crossed-out-ness. I’ve noticed that good editors have a very light touch and put dainty dots and dashes in pencil as ‘suggestions for your consideration.” It’s nice and I want to be one of those friendly respecters of people’s work. 

Wisdom Four: Find Out Why

If you’re not getting the result that you want; take the time to find out why.  Get the person to explain their thinking to you before you make a call if the work is ‘a bit shit’ or ‘that guy’s lazy.’

Look at yourself first and try to figure out if you have explained things properly and given enough information.  Just because the picture you have in your head is different, it doesn’t mean the work is necessarily wrong. Is this something new you could adapt? How much experience do they have and do they know less or more than you about what they’re producing?

Wisdom Five: Do Unto Others

My Big Boss gets a lot of things right and this is one of them. Think about why there are certain people that you are happy to work with and do things for and certain people that you dread being in the lift with. Why is that? Often, it because of the emotional outcome stuff. That person has been a pain, given you some rough feedback and been unreasonable. Work to NOT be that person. Model yourself off the people that you do like working with and think about what makes it different. 

That’s about all I can think of for now. Feel free to add your own. I look forward to your feedback (in pencil). 

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Why I'm Not A Huge Fan of Social Dashboards


Guess what?

Organisations had communications functions BEFORE social media. 

The way that some people talk about the moon landings they are experiencing in this ‘whole new world’ of social media I really do wonder what the hell they are doing that I’m missing. 

I’ve worked pretty much 50/50 across marketing and communications my whole working life and one thing I don’t do is sit in front of a dashboard all day looking at metrics. 

I’ve assessed many different social media dashboard type products for various companies and always seem to come to the same conclusion: “this one is good at this thing, not so good at that thing. I probably wouldn’t really use it.” 

Many of the systems being peddled have been rushed out by agencies desperate to lock in retainers with their marketing clients. The ‘reveal’ sessions are seen as a way to pitch social into a company and trigger further consulting work through regular reporting and talking a load of nonsense about ROI.  They are not designed as tools for the practitioner on the shop floor. 

It seems to be a shared sentiment across people that I know and respect in the industry.  They aren’t ‘dashboard’ sort of folk. Good communicators are generally ‘people’ people and they like to look humans in the eye and discuss ideas.  They will pull a big piece of data for a specific project but, day-to-day, most people understand the news and media landscape and have an instinct for issues. 

There are other human beings that work where I work and usually I have meetings with them and try to understand what they’re trying to do and where I can help. I write briefs for agencies, approve things, write communications and talk on the phone.  

Yes I look at research and media monitors much in the same way I always have. Standard issue for a marcomms function. No great giant leaps for mankind over here I’m afraid. 

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Friday, December 2, 2011

Who Owns Your Social Media Identity?


I seem to be pretty much on my own with this one and I'm not sure why. 

People all seem to be comfortable with the idea of having a work email account and a personal email account.  

So why are social media accounts any different?

If you are on company equipment, on company time, using company infrastructure; then clearly it is easier to define a ‘work account’. If you are mucking around talking to your mates about lolcats then do that on your personal account. Same as email.  The ‘work account’ then becomes and online asset that is the property of the employer. If @DaphneTalksBudgies leaves the pet shop then the account can be changed to @CherylTalksBudgies and the community that the pet shop has invested resource in can continue. 

Instead, we seem to see this horrid hybrid of “I’m Captain Awesome In Charge at Some Epic Company ---views are my own and not my employer’s.”

People then proceed to talk about hot topics in their industry (often on company time and equipment) and then try to pretend that a token “views expressed are my own” will wash their hands of any responsibility. 

As a communications panda trained in the ‘old way’ of having defined company spokespeople who are trained and briefed as experts on specific topics I find this ridiculous.

To me, that would be like Paul Reynolds having a spray about telco deregulation on Twitter and then trying to claim that it had no relation to his job at Telecom. You can’t shape shift like that. 

One of the few social media policies that I have seen take this matter seriously is the news organisation Reuters. Employees are encouraged to have a clearly defined work social media account that follows a company standard and remains the property of the company. The account is approved by the person’s manager for work use so it’s all out in the open. Personal accounts are left well alone, same as a personal Gmail account. 

I’m very conscious of what I send through my work email account and readily switch to my personal account if I’m ever in any doubt.  As our maturity around social tools as professional work spaces develops, hopefully more people will start to adopt this approach. 

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