360 degree learning

Bill Sledzik reminds us of how social media can be used to ridicule rather than support those who may know less than we do.  I often wonder why people would be rude to others using a public medium and whether this is better than talking about someone behind their back.

In general, I believe in a “doasyouwouldbedoneby” approach, taking Thumper rabbit’s advice (if you can’t say something nice…), but I do find myself thinking or saying things about other people, including if I think they don’t know something that I think is obvious.

There is a tendency for (some of) the young (and uninformed) to be arrogant, but hasn’t it ever been so?  My little niece aged two-and-a-half is at the stage of thinking she can do everything herself.  Would anyone ridicule her efforts to learn new things – even if she decides to “teach her grandmother to suck eggs“?

Many blogs and other online tools share knowledge,  a lot of which isn’t necessarily of the highest standard, and may seem blindingly obvious.

But that is how we learn.  I don’t really care how old someone is if they want to share their view of the world – even if I disagree, I can learn something, even if it is just that they are uninformed (in my humble opinion).

Last week, when reviewing campaigns in PR Week, I learned that the concept of the Football Pools is unfamiliar to many young people (taking my seminar groups as a sample).  This is good as it reminds me that something I take for granted maybe new to someone else.  I also learn from the undergrads as their life experiences are different from mine.  Likewise when yesterday I was running a brand/PR training session for members of Lions clubs who predominantly older than me, I benefit from understanding another perspective on things.

No-one knows everything – despite what some “gurus” might like us to believe.  And, anything we know has been derived from somewhere else – very few of us are either original thinkers or inventors.  Those who are new to online often understand better than the old hands what might be relevant advice for others who are newbies.

As the Queen tells Alice in Through the Looking Glass: “sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”.   Like her, I believe that practice is all that is needed to keep on learning.

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

6 thoughts on “360 degree learning”

  1. Heather.

    Bill had to interrupt a series of SEVENTEEN video clips with Brian Connolly, talking about the creation and execution of Strumpette. If that isn’t an endorsement of a thicker-skin mentality, I don’t know what is.

    Please re-read the post, the comments, and the backstory. NO ONE was targeting Lauren. This is so much larger than her. This is about how an entire burgeoning form of communication risks burning out first-time clients because anyone and everyone can claim to be an “expert.”

    We’re talking about a field that is less-regulated than the hucksters in the tonic-oil days. Not that I think Social Media is snake oil… but there sure are a lot of barkers pitching tents and making noise. There are also companies forking over large sums of money for zero results, because they are doing business with fly-by-nighters who never had the chops to begin with. Certification is a non-issue in PR to begin with, even moreso in Social Media.

    Do you recall Matt Bacak, who issued that godawful news release about his “dominance on Twitter and Facebook”? Was I wrong to publish this? http://occamsrazr.com/2008/12/02/global-dominance-2/

    I wish nothing but luck and good fortune for Lauren and anyone else who stakes out on entrepreneurial waters. Her age and life experience have zero to do with this discussion – as evidenced above, I have the same reaction to middle-aged men who tout expertise in areas they lack, and whose collective self-promotion and over-exuberance will bring harm to the companies they are hired to help.

  2. I agree entirely that there are a lot of people offering “expert” advice on social media, and otherwise in the PR field, which is at best simplistic and at worst, harmful – and charging ill-informed clients lots of money to do so.

    Such “experts” are as likely to have been round the block a few times as to have a new pair of running shoes straight out of school. Interesting, the over-middle-aged, CEO of Little Chef that I posted about today claims to have been a management consultant. I dread to think what his advice consisted of.

    Appointing a consultant is much like making any other appointment – clients should do due diligence before believing any self-publicity of “expertise”. But there will be many who are naive enough to do so, and don’t value their own companies enough to have systems in place to evaluate and check the quality of advice they are being given.

    There is also so much hype written – much from those with longer experience of being held up as gurus – claiming success from campaigns that are at best forgettable, that railing against instant expertise seems to me to be unhelpful.

    Social media is a bit like gold-panning and there are many fools spotting gold out there. But there are no real rules of where the gold lies and the best way to find it. Everyone is finding their way and the best will hopefully trail the most valuable path.

  3. Hello, Heather. And thanks for the link — I think. I wonder if my post – along with my series with Strumpette’s co-creator — will finally lead to my banishment from the PR blogsphere. If so, let me assure you I will go down in flames! (LOL)

    I’m troubled that two of those involved in my post, Ike and BL, seem intent on avoiding the core issue, which is very simple: “Think before you tweet.” Lauren Berger didn’t deserve the ridicule she received in the public forum of Twitter. In fact, she deserves our admiration for her hard work and her focus.

    My post didn’t focus on Lauren’s “claim” to be a guru — because she never made the claim. She was pilloried for saying that she planned to focus her professional development in the area of social media. What she did say was this:

    “These are things that I’m trying to do on a daily/weekly basis to expand my knowledge of this new world. I think as entrepreneurs we are all responsible for keeping up with the times and learning how to communicate and grow our buisnesses in this new environment.”

    Certainly not the words of a person claiming to be a guru, are they?

    Ike, I’m not sure why you decided to mention the Brian Connolly series I’m now running on the blog, but I’m glad you did. Because these words from your own comment (above) could very easily have come from Brian (or from Andrew Keen in “Cult of the Amatuer”).

    “We’re talking about a field that is less-regulated than the hucksters in the tonic-oil days. Not that I think Social Media is snake oil… but there sure are a lot of barkers pitching tents and making noise. There are also companies forking over large sums of money for zero results, because they are doing business with fly-by-nighters who never had the chops to begin with. Certification is a non-issue in PR to begin with, even moreso in Social Media.”

    Like most times, Ike, I think we agree on a whole lot more than we disagree. And you’re seeing the business side of social media a lot more clearly than most.

  4. I really like your gold-panning analogy, Heather. I wonder how many chunks of fools gold lay at the bottom of that pan?

    This post–Bill’s too–is not about making the distinction between SM expert/guru and beginner (as much as those titles may irk me); it’s about people taking a space that is, at its base, a pure two-way communication vehicle and creating cliques, silos. Judy Gombita uses the term “mean kids” and she’s absolutely right. At the foundation of this space is collaboration, and we can and should welcome some disagreement. What I cannot support, though, is puppetry and bullying, and the Tweets that Bill highlighted in his post are shining examples of both.

  5. Brandon, I must give credit for the term “mean kids” where it’s due. I read it via a post on the Story 2.Oh Digital Drama blog: http://story2oh.com/2009/1/9/war-and-peace-webstyle

    I was at that CaseCamp presentation and went from being enthralled in-the-second row regarding its creativity, to quite horrified at watching a presenter being “attacked” by a mean kids faction at the back.

    Not that I think this particular twitterdrama is nearly as egregious. Probably thoughtless, more than downright mean. I just wish it was recognized as such, and some “sorrys” said. Sorry can make such a huge difference in smoothing things over….

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