I’m so glad that’s all over at last

Cliff 2AND THERE’S MOORE…

Well, thank goodness that’s all over.

It was a nail-biter all the way, possibly the closest contest in living memory.

And it left me on tenterhooks for no little time as the result was in doubt until the very last moment.

But in the end the people’s choice prevailed and our victor will now be taking a seat at the big table.

For, despite the best efforts of Cameron, Miliband and Farage to get in the way, little AFC Bournemouth have won the Championship and secured promotion to the cash-flooded Holy Grail that is the Premier League.

And now things will never be quite the same at Dean Court, sorry, the Goldsands Stadium.

Now, we will be welcoming the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal to our newly-established footballing hotbed.

Why, there’s even a Cherries megastore and people everywhere wearing replica black and red shirts.

It’s all a far cry from the days when I would take my regular position near the tea bar on the New Stand terrace on a Saturday to endure another afternoon of ritual humiliation.

A 1-0 home defeat to a last-minute goal from the likes of Gillingham or Shrewsbury on an awful pitch in front of a meagre, semi-frozen (it was always cold in my memory) ‘crowd’ was a regular occurrence.

And, while it was not exactly a ‘rattles, scarves and pass the young boys over flat-capped heads to the front so they could see the match’ situation, it was a different era.

This was way prior to Hillsborough, Heysel and Bradford, a time when football ground facilities were to be endured rather than enjoyed (just don’t actually touch anything in the toilets and you might be OK).

The unfinished Brighton Beach end had girders sticking out of concrete pillars and the ball would often be lost into the pot-holed Kings Park car park beyond where small, rival groups of opposing fans would sometimes attempt to emulate their bigger league rivals at hooliganism…and fail miserably.

The wooden structure of a main stand was on its last legs, the back of the South End boarded up for safety reasons and everything had the feel of a seaside resort out of season. Which it was.

Now it’s all a little bit different, but in many ways just the same as ever.

Admittedly, a fair bit of owner Maxim Demin’s cash has been sloshing about and the transfer fees being bandied about for star players would have been unthinkable not that long ago.

But Dean Court (let’s call it that) still has a homely feel about it. There is nothing particularly flash about the rebuilt ground and chairman Jeff Mostyn has said capacity would not be increased at the expense of money going on the team.

Who knows how long the Cherries can survive in the Premier League, how long they can hold on to boss Eddie Howe, FEM (future England manager) and which players might be lured away by bigger clubs (step forward Matt Ritchie and Simon Francis)?

Whatever happens, the club and its fans have been living the dream in a way so far removed from when the club nearly went out of existence less than a decade ago – so much so that a season ticket holding pal of mine still actually pinches himself at each game to prove it is all real.

It is, and it will take some getting used to. But it just goes to show that even in the hard-nosed world of football business there is room for a rags-to-riches story.

So, the example of the Cherries can be held up as an inspiration to any small business struggling to stay afloat – proof that success can be achieved with a little luck and a lot of hard work.

Indeed, as the old golfer Gary Player once said, “The harder I practise, the luckier I get.” It’s something that remains true today and might be remembered by anyone on their uppers.

Trouble is, next season I won’t be able to get a ticket for love nor money.

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Dorset teacher’s life in Nepal

As the world’s media attention continues to focus on Nepal, we’ve heard from a Dorset teacher who used to live there. Here we share some of Chris Maxted’s thoughts as he seeks to encourage the relief effort following the devastating earthquake.

Since the disaster, recalling his time living in the Gorkha district of Nepal has become a far more poignant experience for Chris.

Having left his teaching job at a middle school in Poole, he travelled to Nepal in 2010, and by chance ended up working in Shree Rameshwory School in the village of Bungkot, Gorkha; first for a few weeks, then for many months. It was to become the beginning of a lasting friendship with the people of this region.

“Being part of village life is such a humbling experience,” said Chris, 35, now based in Hong Kong. “Especially in this remote part of Nepal, where the trappings of modern life are just so far away. I was accepted immediately into the community and integrated into their daily routines. I lived in the tiny attic room of the Thapa family’s farmhouse. They are my closest friends in Nepal.”

As a result of the earthquake over 90% of the villagers of Bungkot, including the entire Thapa family, are now homeless and desperately waiting for relief to reach them.

“Everyone’s houses are either damaged or completely destroyed, and my family are all sleeping outside,” said Nabaraj Thapa, a native of Gorkha now living in Kathmandu.“We are trying our best to get shelter, food and medicine to them quickly, but conditions are very hard.”

Sadly, due to the proximity of the epicentre to Gorkha and the remoteness of these villages, this story is the same all over the district. Entire communities have been decimated, and the geography and weather are posing considerable challenges to the relief effort.

It was in 2010 that Chris first established contact with The Gorkha Foundation, a US-based charity who focus on providing development in education, healthcare, microcredit and agriculture for the under privileged communities in this predominantly rural district. Over the years they have collaborated on numerous projects in educational development for the people of Gorkha.

“At this moment the world spotlight is shining on Gorkha, but for such unfortunate reasons,” said Chris. “In the aftermath of the earthquake, we are working very closely with the Gorkha Foundation to raise funds internationally and to deploy supplies as best we can.”

Gorkha Foundation is using its extensive local knowledge of the district to provide crucial logistical assistance and manpower to the efforts of Doctors Without Borders, The Red Cross, Mercy Corps and the Nepalese Army. Together they are helping co-ordinate relief to ensure that aid is successfully focused on those who need it the most.

“Surgical teams made it through yesterday,” said Bijaya Devkota, Director of Gorkha Foundation. “But resources will dictate the reach of the relief effort. At the moment we desperately need to raise more money to fund the logistics of providing help to these people.”

Shree Rameshwory School, where Chris taught, is now barely standing. Just like so many other buildings all over the region, it is now a danger to itself and to those around it.

“It is going to take so long for these people to rebuild their lives, physically and spiritually, after something as huge as this,” said Chris. “At the moment however, our priority is to make sure people are safe from disease and from the elements, and that they have enough food and water to keep going. For that we need funds. Despite the pressure everyone is under, it is such a relief to know that organisations like Gorkha Foundation are on the frontline.”

To contribute to the relief effort in Gorkha, go to www.gorkhafoundation.org.

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Small is beautiful

 

AND THERE’S MOORE…

Small is beautiful

By Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

Cliff 2

I’ve been suspending my disbelief.

You might think I’ve been reading the works of poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge who coined the phrase in 1817.

Of course, if you believe that my cognitive estrangement had anything to do with judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative in poetry, then you need to have another think pretty quickly.

I am sure there are plenty of aficionados of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner to lead you down that particular path, but my suspension – accepting the premise of whatever is in front of you for the duration it is there – was on a more straightforward level.

Yes, I’ve been to Disneyland Paris.

It should be said at the outset that I love Mickey Mouse and the Magic Kingdom, all the rides – except, obviously, It’s A Small World – and the shows and parades, even those with their mind worming music. Suspending one’s disbelief there is so much more fun.

Just to back that up: On a two-week holiday in Florida I became agitated on the one day in 14 in which we didn’t visit the theme parks. I did question why on earth a rest day was factored in, but my complaints were brushed aside.

It set me thinking. What other global concern has so much reach and why has Disney cornered the market?

Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and McDonald’s may all rank ahead of the Mouse in lists of the world’s top brands, but none have captured the imagination in quite the same way.

We’re all touched by the computer giants whether we like it or not, but I can’t imagine anyone making a pilgrimage to any but the most local branch of the Golden Arches and Coke, well, that’s just a drink isn’t it?

Disney rules because everything (yes, even in France) is so imbued with the American service ethic that it runs like clockwork.

Can you imagine in this country that you would be able to drop your baggage at a railway station, enjoy a not inconsiderate number of hours in a theme park and then find your bags waiting for you at your hotel? Yes, the right bags and the right hotel, with none spilled open and no surly left luggage staff!

Of course you can’t.

Disney works so much like clockwork one could almost say it was mechanical, but the ‘magic’ counteracts that, as it does the fact that you know they are raking in millions and you know that things are particularly expensive. Somehow it doesn’t matter.

These great multi-nationals all influence our lives, as do the big ‘nationals’ in this country, but aren’t we glad there are enough independent companies out there to enable a choice to be offered.

We are lucky down here on the South Coast to have plenty of stand-alone businesses offering fantastic goods and services and not beholden to paymasters thousands of miles away.

Long may this remain the case. The scale of independence often changes over the years, but the principle persists.

Without our smaller businesses the world would be an unhappier place. We don’t always want a tall decaf, soy latte with an extra shot and caramel drizzle from a chain, a stupendous BOGOF deal in a leading supermarket or the same menu in every pub we visit (not that we visit pubs very often).

No, we sometimes want a simple coffee from a neighbourhood café, groceries from a decent independent shop (if you can find one) and home-cooked food served up in a beautiful country freehouse with roses around the door.

And the fact we still have small companies gives people a chance to dream, to believe they can become entrepreneurs or to build up their good idea from scratch –and one day become a multi-national.

But enough on business; let’s get back to the important stuff and one final question with regard to Disney…what kind of creature is Goofy?

Answers on a postcard.

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Why the print option remains vitally important

Cliff 2

AND THERE’S MOORE…

by Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

 

Sales of regional daily newspapers continue their relentless march downhill.

The most recent figures, sadly more illuminating than shocking, reveal some dreadful results.

And as someone who has spent 99 per cent of his working life in the industry I find this utterly depressing.

Statistics show the Birmingham Mail was down more than 20 per cent year-on-year, the Sunderland Echo lost 16.8 per cent and both the Coventry Telegraph and Cambridge News shipped 15 per cent.

If the trend continues much longer many of them may well cease to exist.

But, publishing groups will cry, the massive increases in digital readership more than make up for the decline in physical readership.

That is undoubtedly true in numerical terms, but misses the point.

The cover price, hiked up tremendously by many groups in a prime example of short-termism, is lost as sales plummet.

The increase in digital advertising is probably not replacing the amount lost from in-paper ads as the price for space drops in tandem with newspaper sales.

And that leads us to the oft-debated conundrum of whether it is beneficial to give away one’s news for free on the newspaper website before it appears in the print edition.

Obviously, breaking death and destruction stories need uploading immediately (otherwise someone else will gladly do it) but some balance needs to be struck between what goes first on the web or in print.

Most newspapers have never got to grips with this problem and it is surely too late to now consider introducing firewalls where none previously existed.

The recurring theory is that readership decline is bottoming out to a hard core plateau of loyalists. That’s interesting, but as older readers pass on will they be replaced by younger people?

Young people of my acquaintance wouldn’t dream of going out to buy a paper, but they will look at the websites (mainly for gossip, showbiz and sport), but that certainly isn’t contributing anything to the newspaper’s coffers.

And, of course, we no longer have newspaper groups, rather we have multi-media, multi-functional organisations – and they are fighting against seemingly overwhelming odds for survival.

The bottom line is that we can’t allow regional newspapers to disappear. They perform a vital service – as well as bringing us the news and quality journalism – by providing a check on local authorities, statutory bodies and politicians.

However, that function will cease to exist if the squeeze from all sides continues much further. For who will foot the bill for quality journalists?

Newspaper websites, I would contend, simply won’t survive without a tangible product at their core. Cross-referencing of copy, ideas and promotions is surely the best way ahead.

Otherwise we are left with citizen journalists reporting the news on social media and, while that may be perfectly acceptable for straightforward events and pictures, there would be no in-depth analysis, no reporting of complicated situations and no uncovering of cover-ups.

In short, given that the national media will not have the resources or inclination to delve too deeply into matters of purely local importance, anyone, should they wish to, is likely to be able to get away with anything.

The inevitable conclusion is that it is vital that regional newspapers survive – perhaps even as weeklies rather than dailies ­- and the only way for that to happen is for us to keep buying them.

 

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Be prepared to expect the unexpected

Cliff 2AND THERE’S MOORE…

 

by Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

 

A friend of mine is standing for Parliament in the forthcoming General Election.

I won’t mention his name or constituency for being associated with me may well harm his chances of being elected.

Suffice to say he has lived in his area for a number of years, is a respectable family man with children and holds down a solid career.

He has built up his reputation carefully and has taken on various political party roles as well as being immersed in the world of volunteering.

It’s unlikely he has a closet, never mind any skeletons contained therein.

In short, he’s a good egg who seems ideally placed to do well.

And that set me thinking – what if he actually topped the poll?

What if he actually became a Member of Parliament?

What if he suddenly found himself with a host of new responsibilities overnight?

His world would be turned completely upside down.

This is, of course, something that happens to a great many people and, indeed, companies.

For individuals the great change may be caused by, among other things, bereavement, a loss of work or a house move.

With regard to businesses, it is more likely to be some sort of out-of-the-blue incident that knocks everything off kilter.

And that could quite easily turn into a fast-moving, full-blown crisis that threatens reputations and livelihoods.

Would you know how to respond if your business became involved in a serious situation?

One would hope so, but what about dealing with the media? Are you prepared for a press pack relentlessly haranguing you for answers or social media rumours spiralling out of control?

This is where Deep South Media steps in.

Our 24/7, 365 one-stop shop crisis response team is there to provide media expertise when the proverbial hits the fan, leaving you more time to deal with everything else.

DSM’s experts can be there to professionally advise and reassure – and take over media communications immediately.

So, if urgent help is needed it is always at hand.

But it is always better to prepare for the worst and have an embedded plan of action for when the unthinkable – be it an incident, accident or even a crime – happens unexpectedly.

At Deep South Media we work with clients to focus on that awful worst case scenario and provide emergency response protocols (ERPs, yes, an acronym) to prevent a crisis from becoming a disaster.

These detailed processes for communication with the media, the public, staff and other interested parties give your senior managers a place to turn when disaster strikes.

Good media communications will not, of course, make your crisis go away, but when a microphone is being pressed under your nose or Twitter and Facebook are going bananas, good ERPs will stop it becoming deeper.

And as for my prospective MP friend, well, help could be at the end of the phone for him, but I guess he may be a little preoccupied for a little while yet…

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Investigating a non-complaint (or IANC)

AND THERE’S MOORE…

The crazy world of acronyms

By Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

We live in a world of acronyms where writing whole words is simply tiresome.

Examples include the old favourites BOGOF, SWALK and ROTFL.*1

But there are also newer examples, such as DFTBA, FUTAB and SMH.*2

I blame Twitter’s 140-character restriction where the ultimate goal now is to convey one’s entire message without using any words at all.

One of my colleagues is an acronym freak, but it rather defeats his object that no one understands them and he always has to explain himself.

There is a comprehensive modern acronym list on NetLingo, although I should issue an asterisk profanity warning at this point.

All this is a particularly convoluted build-up to the matter in hand today, an acronym that many people may not be familiar with, IPSO.

You could be forgiven for thinking that it goes with ‘facto’ to make, depending on your viewpoint, the Latin phrase ‘by the fact itself’ or an old Badly Drawn Boy lyric/documentary.

No, this IPSO is the Independent Press Standards Organisation, the body controversially set up by the newspaper industry to monitor itself after the demise of the PCC (sorry, force of habit, Press Complaints Commission).

One chap who knows all about it is Tory MP Brooks Newmark, who resigned as Minister For Civil Society last September when the Sunday Mirror exposed (LOL) the fact that he had sent an explicit photograph of himself to a ‘young female Tory Party activist’ after they had exchanged a series of Twitter messages.

The activist who caught out the 56-year-old honourable former member for Braintree (he’s not standing next month) was in fact a journalist for the Guido Fawkes political blog site who flogged the story that the Mirror gleefully published.

IPSO, recently, after a six-month gap, eventually published its findings into the case after its first high-profile investigation, ruling the Mirror had not breached the code of conduct and that publishing the story was in the public interest.

The finding was obviously correct – because I think we should all be concerned that a Government Minister was exchanging explicit messages regardless of their relevance to his role – and that subterfuge was necessary on this occasion to bring it to notice.

The interesting aspect is that IPSO – headed by former top judge Sir Alan Moses and supported by all major newspaper groups except the Guardian – ploughed on with its lengthy inquiry despite the fact that no one had made a complaint.

The press watchdog, no doubt growling that it wanted to show its critics it had teeth, decided to investigate the actual newsgathering techniques to see whether the Mirror was fulfilling its obligations to the Editors’ Code of Practice (the issue being whether or not the journalist had prior knowledge of Mr Newmark’s wrongdoings).

That it cleared the Mirror can be hailed as a victory for investigative journalism, but it does raise issues, most notably about whether there should have been this self-initiated probe at all.

The media commentator Roy Greenslade described IPSO’s investigation as ‘flawed’, but didn’t necessarily disagree with its findings.

It remains to be seen whether IPSO will carry out any more of these guerrilla raids, but the bottom line is that our politicians need to be held to account and sometimes the only way to do it is by undercover means.

We must celebrate and cherish our investigative journalists as being a vital check on people in high public office who fall below the standards expected of them – especially as we approach a general election that some commentators are dubbing the most important for a generation.

On that note…

AAMOF, AFAIC, AISE, SSEWBA…ADBB*3

 

 

 

*1: Buy One Get One Free; Sealed With A Loving Kiss; Rolling On The Floor Laughing

*2: Don’t Forget To Be Awesome; Feet Up Taking A Break; Shaking My Head

*3: As A Matter Of Fact; As Far As I’m Concerned; As I Said Earlier, Someday Soon Everything Will Be Acronyms; All Done, Bye Bye

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Choose your maverick with care

AND THERE’S MOORE…

Why we need mavericks, but not always…

By Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

Many trees have died in the fallout from the Jeremy Clarkson situation – axed to provide the growing acres of newsprint needed to accommodate the millions of words spewed out in description of this increasingly rancorous affair.

For anyone not familiar with TopGeargate (or hotfoodgate, if you will), I should mention that the BBC decided not to renew Top Gear presenter Clarkson’s contract following a top level internal inquiry into the alleged fracas he had with a member of the show’s production team over the provision of food.

I suspect that such situations, not necessarily about food, probably occur on daily basis around the world in many spheres of working life, but it proved one incident too far for the BBC with regard to the opinionated Clarkson, whose contract conveniently runs out at the end of March.

We might remember that the controversial presenter was involved in an ugly N-word brouhaha last year and the programme’s Argentina ‘adventure’ did no one involved any favours.

And there has been a multitude of occasions where the forthright Clarkson’s outrageous behaviour has been called into question – homophobic accusations, racial stereotyping of Germans, Mexicans and Romanians and jokes about lorry drivers murdering prostitutes, to name but a few.

The list is uncomfortably long when digested in one sitting, but most incidents were brushed off with half-hearted apologies when the criticism got too strong or ‘not guilty’ findings by broadcasting watchdogs or the BBC Governors’ complaints committee.

Against this, one might consider that the endearingly popular Top Gear is watched by more than five million people on BBC2 and sold to countries around the world (presumably sales to Argentina have slumped).

And it is the very format of the programme, much of it scripted by Clarkson, that ensures its amazing popularity. Can you imagine, in this day and age, that a Top Gear presented by a William Woollard or a Quentin Willson (or James May, come to that) comparing the petrol consumption of the Ford Cortina against the Vauxhall Vectra would attract any viewers at all?

There is also the fact that many people seem to utterly revel in being offended. A quick look at BBC’s Newswatch will confirm this pretty quickly.

The larky, jokey, lads mag nature of the behemoth that Top Gear has become is what ensured its endearing popularity – and is also what has brought down the big beast Clarkson.

Once the BBC concluded that there should not be one rule for talent and another one for the rest Clarkson was doomed.

I hold no candle for this seemingly tiresome man used to getting his own way and he will undoubtedly bounce back in one form or another, but his demise does raise an interesting issue.

That of the maverick.

We need mavericks – people who are different, those prepared to stick their neck out, take some flack, do things their way and, most importantly, achieve things.

If the world of business was full of plodders then innovation would become an arcane word. The safety-first, no risk approach would lead to nothingness.

But, as with any walk of life, control is needed. Too many mavericks would soon cause anarchy without calming influences.

The answer for businesses (simple to theorise, difficult to achieve) is maintaining a balance by allowing your maverick off the leash to crank up the ideas machine without upsetting (too much) everyone else.

First, of course, find your maverick.

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How the message is received

AND THERE’S MOORE…

Voicing my concern over how the message is received

by Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

I have become, through no fault of my own but rather as a victim of circumstance, an avid viewer of BBC TV’s Saturday night talent contest The Voice.

This is the show where wonderful/average/absolutely useless [delete where applicable] singing hopefuls parade their talents before a panel of four industry experts.

These experts this year are the flirtatious Rita Ora, the earnest Ricky Wilson, the seemingly permanently bewildered Sir Tom Jones and will.i.am, a rapper whose convoluted pontifications and comparisons make A Brief History Of Time seem like a Janet and John book.

The show’s USP is that the auditions are ‘blind’, inasmuch as the judges don’t see the wannabe star before they commit to giving them a coveted place on their teams by bashing a button and turning their chair.

So, it is all a matter of perception.

Someone’s voice may be that of an angel, but if the judges were aware that they looked like a cross between (and I know I’m dating myself here) The Roly Polys and The Weather Girls (look them up, kids) would they have been so fast?

It struck me, therefore, that none of us perceive things in the same way.

This was heightened when the judges had to cut their teams to just three candidates for the live shows being broadcast currently – because I am absolutely certain they weren’t hearing the same voices as me.

They couldn’t have been or they wouldn’t have ended up with, in some cases, such duffers representing them.

Thus it is in real life. Some of us may regard Jeremy Clarkson as an opinionated oaf while to others he is a much-maligned hero of lads’ TV…and so on.

Here at Deep South Media the very nature of our business is getting the message across, but how do we know how that message is being received?

The answer is that it comes from experience.

The message from us is straightforward, factual and honest (that’s the way we do things here).

This ensures there is really only one way for that message to be received.

Our ever- growing client base teaches us that we must be doing something right.

It is the same with everything in life and, with the General Election merely weeks away, it is something our politicians may care to bear in mind.

It may be unfair to tar all candidates with the same brush, but the stock of politicians is pretty low at present and we need to know we can believe what they are telling us to maintain the credibility of our political system.

Or, not to put too fine a point on it, people may well care more who takes The Voice trophy than which party leader ends up with the keys to 10 Downing Street on May 7.

There… all that about how we view things differently without any reference whatsoever to that blue, gold and white dress.

Cliff Moore, Account Director, Deep South Media

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Talking yourself into trouble

Careless talk is still wreaking havoc with reputations, careers and profits 70 years after Government propaganda posters warned our grandparents that ‘Careless talk costs lives’.

Opening mouth and inserting foot is not exclusively the tendency of UKIP, and  to prove the point two Labour MPs and a prominent Tory this week have managed to talk themselves into the deepest do-da,

Everyone in public life – and that means not just politicians but anyone in a position of responsibility ­- is vulnerable.

First it was veteran Labour MP Austin Mitchell’s turn to put himself in the stocks. His statement that Labour would win the election in Grimsby even if it selected a raving alcoholic sex paedophile as its candidate would have been mildly amusing to a private audience of friends. It was reckless in front of an Independent on Sunday reporter.

Much more serious  were the boasts of two apparently impeccable elder statesmen. A few minutes’ careless talk in front of strangers was long enough for Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind  to destroy the reputations they had spent a lifetime building.  All it took to bring them down was a simple sting operation by Channel 4 and the Telegraph, who secretly filmed them boasting how much  influence they could wield if a mythical Chinese company paid them enough,

It’s 24 years since Gerald Ratner nearly obliterated  his own jewellery company by describing some of its products as total crap, but his speech to the Institute of Directors lives on as a terrible warning to anyone daft enough not to realise how badly their remarks might be taken in a different context.

And as if the traditional media were not dangerous enough, the modern phenomenon of social media is a forest full of elephant traps in which the mildest politically incorrect comment can provoke torrents of abuse. Not just politicians, but corporate leaders need to think very carefully about what they are about to say if they want to avoid the wrath of Twitter’s thought police.

You do not have to say anything, but as any TV cop will tell you as he locks you in handcuffs, anything you do say may be given in evidence.

The moral is simple: engage brain before opening mouth.

- GARETH WEEKES, Deep South Media.

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Does your firm have a social media policy?

by Ron Wain, Joint Managing Director, Deep South Media

Well, what would you do?

This is your call, given that you’re the boss.

A tough one, for sure, because one of your staff has just posted a YouTube video rant against “apologetic” Muslims in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris.

There is a clear reputational issue for your business because some viewers may well have been offended by the language used, including a reference to “kuffars” (non-believers).

This was a dilemma faced this month by international law firm Clifford Chance, a Magic Circle player, following the controversial posting by Aysh Chaundhry, a junior trainee.

Appealing directly to fellow Muslims, he said: “Freedom of speech is a value upon which they [the West] are attacking you.”

It must be stressed that the video did not incite violence, which is illegal, but the religious subject matter catapulted the name of Clifford Chance into the unwelcome media spotlight.

Of course, freedom of speech is everything, poignantly symbolised by the rallying slogan of Je suis Charlie in the wake of the French atrocities.

Yet this has to be weighed up against the reputational damage an employee may do to your business if he or she takes to social media channels to express controversial opinions, even if it is in their own time.

Mr Chaundhry has apologised; this may well be an example where passion has clouded judgement.

However, there is more to this episode than a mea culpa.

Law firms and other companies in the professional services sector, such as accountancies and property agencies, should have a written policy in place regarding the use of social media.

One which makes it unequivocally clear that any private postings are not the views of the company; that any postings which have a negative impact on the brand could be met with disciplinary procedures.

Far from ideal, of course, but social media has blurred the hitherto private boundaries between the living room and the office desk.

What is galling for Clifford Chance is that the digital footprint of this unwarranted problem will remain for years to come.

The same applies to Mr Chaundhry.

Meanwhile, you better check your social media policy so you know what to do if an employee, however valued, goes off on one on social media.

If the posting does attract unwelcome media attention, we are just a phone call away to help you, ethically and sensitively, with any reputational ramifications.

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