Saturday, July 31, 2010

The End of Forgetting

This past Sunday, The New York Times Sunday magazine featured an article about the end of forgetting.  In it, Jeffrey Rosen presents a rather scary proposition - one that ought to be intuitive to anyone with any familiarity of online culture: every move you make can be kept online for posterity and come back to haunt you in ways you never imagined. 

Take for example, Stacy Snyder, whom Rosen references.  She had what was deemed as "inappropriate" photos of herself and, as a result, was denied a teaching job.  Why should what she does during non-work time at all affect her professional qualifications?

I can't go into the depth of argument Rosen did - I don't think I'd have anything to add - but I do want to comment on this from a perspective of reputation management.  As anyone who has been at the wrong end of a reputation crisis can attest: one "oh crap" is far more powerful than 10 "attaboys." 

Today, individuals who engage in public displays of everything personal must take upon themselves the same rules of engagement as companies and other organizations interested in reputation management.  To a large extent, what is right and wrong is irrelevant.  We can only deal with what is.

Friday, July 16, 2010


There's an AP video on Yahoo today about a Holocaust survivor who stars in a video, along with his grandchildren.  Here is the video from YouTube:

If you watch the video until the end, you'll get to the punchline, where the grandfather says he never would have thought that he'd "be here today dancing" with his grandchildren.

I guess not too surprisingly, there are people who aren't happy.

While I don't agree, I understand their point of view.  But, to me, this man isn't just celebrating his survival.  He's celebrating his total and complete victory over millions of people who sought to destroy him and all those who's come after him.

By just living and having children and grandchildren, he celebrates victory every day.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Foot in Mouth Disease

Interesting post by The Wall Street Journal's Jeffrey Zaslow on slips of the tongue.

One of the most important media and communications tips I give to clients is to "know your story."  I picked this up from a former employer who understood the power of having key messages and sticking to them.  One of the most painful things to watch is an interview with someone who isn't clear on what he or she is saying.  "The worst thing you can do in an interview," my employer would say, "is to try out a new message in an interview setting."

So, what is one to do?  Practice!

Here's how I put it to clients:  Remember when you were dating someone you wanted to impress (perhaps your spouse) and you'd stand in front of the mirror and review what you were going to say?  This is the same thing, except I'm your mirror and I'll give you feedback.

So, today's take-aways?

1.  Think about your key messages.
2.  Practice saying your key messages.
3.  No matter what, don't ever "try out" new messaging in an interview situation.

As Zaslow points out: "If only more of us would follow the advice of 1950s-era humorist Sam Levenson. 'It's so simple to be wise,' he once said. 'Just think of something stupid to say and then don't say it.'"