Viewing posts from the Opinions category

Celebrating Women – International Women’s Day 2017

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2017 the team at Energi have nominated women who they hold in high regard.

Shirley Lowe, Account Director on the Coca-Cola account nominated Kiwi athlete Nikki Hamblin.

At the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Nikki Hamblin received considerable international media attention following an incident during the 5000m heat in which both she and American Abbey D’Agostino fell. The two women helped each other finish the race and were allowed to compete in the final, howevern D’Agostino was unable to participate further. Hamblin’s injuries were less serious and she was able to compete in the final. Both athletes were praised for their sportsmanship and Olympicc spirit”, and were subsequently awarded the Rio 2016 Fair Play Award by the International Fair Play Committee.

Hugo Venter, Senior Account Manager, nominated South African singer Miriam Makeba.

Miriam Makeba was among the most visible Africans internationally, Her music earned her the moniker “Mama Africa”. Makeba was also among the most visible individuals campaigning against the apartheid regime in South Africa, and was responsible for popularising a number of songs protesting apartheid, When the South African government prevented her from entering her home country, she became a symbol of the cruelty of apartheid, and she used her position as a celebrity by testifying against apartheid before the UN. Many of her songs were banned within South Africa, being seen as subversive. She thus became a symbol of resistance to the apartheid government both within and outside South Africa.

Jason Anderson, Creative Director, nominated Danish activist Selina Juul.

Selina Juul is a Russian-Danish activist known for her work in promoting the reduction of food waste. She founded the consumer organisation “Stop Wasting Food” (Danish: Stop Spild af Mad) in 2008. Her experiences with food shortages as a child in Russia during the 1980s inspired her work combating food waste. Due to the work of the Stop Wasting Food campaign, Denmark reduced its food waste nationally by 25% in 5 years (2010-2015). She has received several awards for her activism including the Nordic Council Environment Prize and the Danish Social Democrats’ Svend Auken Prize. In 2014, she was named Dane of the Year.

Kit Greer, Mac Operator, nominated cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.

Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova is the first woman to have flown in space, having been selected from more than four hundred applicants and five finalists to pilot Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963. She completed 48 orbits of the Earth in her three days in space. In order to join the Cosmonaut Corps, Tereshkova was honorarily inducted into the Soviet Air Force and thus she also became the first civilian to fly in space. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union and is still regarded as a hero in post-Soviet Russia. At the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, she was a carrier of the Olympic flag.

Louise Henderson, Managing Director, nominated Kiwi suffragette Kate Sheppard.

Katherine Wilson “Kate” Sheppard was the most prominent member of New Zealand’s women’s suffrage movement and was the country’s most famous suffragette. She also appears on the New Zealand ten-dollar note. Since New Zealand was the first country to introduce universal suffrage in 1893, Sheppard’s work has had a considerable impact on women’s suffrage movements in several other countries. The year after women’s suffrage was achieved, Sheppard returned to England for a short time, where she met prominent British suffragettes and gave a number of speeches. Upon her return home, she was elected president of the newly founded National Council of Women of New Zealand which had considerable influence on public opinion.

Best practice when engaging on social media

From the desk of Hugo Venter.

Everyone wants their voice to be heard, and some have even perfected the art of using social media to regularly trend and gain influence in the Twittersphere and elsewhere. Yet some who have been drawn into the maelstrom in recent days are likely regretting attention garnered as they have become a bullseye for other social media users and general public ire. How could a mere 140 characters have turned into lost jobs or former employer litigation?

In some cases the action taken by employers was harsh, and in other seemingly justified, but in all cases it appears that individuals walked into the eye of the storm with little insight into how sensitive their chosen topics had become or just how contentious their comments would be perceived in a public forum.

The capacity of social media to spread public rage like wildfire is becoming better recognised. Public shaming has lately become such bloodsport that all social media users need to be aware of the risks involved, and to protect themselves so that engagement doesn’t turn ugly.

These are my five tips on how to avoid becoming a trending topic on Twitter.

1. Protect your channels
If you are going to participate in conversation on a hot topic chances are that you will be stalked on social media. While Twitter may expose very little in the form of personal information, your Facebook account is the exact opposite. The last thing you want is for your friends or family to become targets due to your actions on social media. You also run the risk of past posts being dragged into the now increasing the threat of backlash from other social media users. CNet offers some great tips on how to secure your Facebook profile in just 6 easy steps.

2. Audit your past content
A trip down memory lane is never a bad thing, especially when that trip is to ensure that you are beyond reproach. Audit every single tweet or post you have made on social media to save yourself the embarrassment of being called out on something you said several years ago. This may seem like an intimidating task but in the end, the effort will be worth it. You don’t need to delete all past content that may cause offense. Instead, you can prepare to defend yourself in the event that that content is dragged up from annals of social media history. You should also pay attention to the topics and themes of your past posts. If you have been vocal and outspoken about a specific topic, and now decide to engage in a conversation where your current stance could be seen as contradictory you will not only face the ire of social media users but also risk losing credibility.

3. Enquire about your employer’s social media policy or guidelines
Many employers encourage their employees to have an active presence on social media especially if they are considered to be experts in their fields. You run personal and professional risks when you step outside your areas of expertise in public, and all social media is public. In response to this ever-growing trend, these same employers tend to have social media guidelines that aim to help employees manage their engagement on social media. If your social media accounts clearly identify you as an employee of your company then speak to your employer first before you start engaging on Twitter. You do not want to be in a position where you take a standpoint that is completely contrary to your employer. This is even more important where the topics carry any degree of reputational risk to your employer. I always emphasize the importance of a disclaimer on personal social media profiles. While a disclaimer like “views expressed are my own” will do little to mitigate the damage of radical posts, it will offer a buffer in the case of less contentious ones.

4. Think about what you are trying to say
If you are going to engage in conversation about a heated or contentious topic pay close attention to the words you use. While you may understand the context of what it is you are trying to say others may see it in a completely different light. Sometimes the most innocuous message, when taken out of context, can cause a major storm. Avoid using big words and keep the message clear and concise, thereby reducing the risk of misinterpretation.

5. Be prepared for negative commentary and feedback
Active participation on social media is a two-way street. It is inevitable that you will be faced with negative comments or even questions about the topics you are engaging on. It is easy to become impassioned in these situations, but before firing off a knee-jerk response takes a few moments to read and then re-read those messages or comments. The last thing you want to do is start a personal war of words with fellow social media users all because you didn’t take the time to think of an appropriate response. Everyone is, after all, entitled to their opinions. You can still get your point across even if you don’t agree with the opinions of those users who are challenging you. Stop, think, and then reply…it’s as simple as that.

Engaging in conversation on social media can be a very rewarding experience, but you need to be aware of the pitfalls too. If you are going to go out guns blazing with comments or views you know are going to get folks upset then you need to be prepared to face the consequences. Express your opinions and air your views, but always try do so in a manner that keeps you out of harm’s way.