Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spying On or Monitoring the Opposition

Australian government agencies have been attacked recently because they admitted they paid a company to monitor the on-line activities and public postings of environmental activists, and the federal police routinely monitor anti-coal mining groups and others through their websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter posts.

Our counter-part down-under, Tony Jaques, in his most recent "Managing Outcomes" article raises some questions that perplex me.

We strongly recommend to almost all our clients that they should be monitoring what anybody and everybody says about them in all media....print, broadcast, and on-line.

Whether you are a small mom & pop business, a not-for-profit, a Fortune 100 Company or somewhere in between, it is foolish and dangerous not to be aware of what your supporters and critics are saying about you.  It is no less unreasonable for government agencies to do the same, as long as it is legal and ethical.

What could be more legal and ethical than to read what is being said about your organization in any and all public forums?

Now, to the perplexing part.

Tony points out that an Australian "Greens" activist Bob Brown has charged the government with "spying on conservation groups"and says they are trying to "criminalize political protest."

I think Mr. Brown should look at the world around him and recognize that when he is writing or talking about the government or any other organization, in a public forum, he not only should expect them to pay attention, he should be offended if they are not paying attention to what he has to say.

Tony also raised a question about the potential damage to a company's reputation if its monitoring of opposing viewpoints is misunderstood or misrepresented.

You can read Tony's column at: http://managingoutcomes.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/spying-allegations-tarnish-legitimate-issue-management/

I would argue that many organizations are more likely to be criticized and raked over the coals if they "are not" listening or paying attention to what others are saying about them.

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