Is all Publicity good Publicity ?

More often than not, negative publicity is followed by a down turn, whether that be in revenue or business relationships.

The most recent example that I can think of is the “Donald Trump Vs Toyota” saga. Within five minutes of President-elect Trump tweeting the below, Toyota lost $1.2 billion in value.

Mr Trump was seemingly responding to comments made by Toyota Motor President Akio Toyoda: at a recent auto industry event, Toyoda commented that the company was still forging ahead with plans to up production in Mexico.

There are isolated incidents where bad publicity can prove to be positive. I am genuinely intrigued by these incidents of negative news being manipulated or often strategically shared to improve a business’s position in a market. The best example I can think of is in regard to budget airlines; I am both fascinated and impressed by the strategy they use.

There are numerous examples I could pull up here, such as budget airlines offering standing only flights to save money and increase capacity. However, I have chosen to focus on a Ryanair announcement from 2011.

In 2011, Michael O’Leary, the airline’s Chief Executive, revealed Ryanair was considering coin slots on cubicle doors: “One thing we have looked at in the past and are looking at again is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door so that people might actually have to spend a pound to spend a penny in future”.
The above comments were made during an interview on a morning television programme and the announcement was met with huge uproar: it would later be covered by most national newspapers. People just could not believe that an airline was going to charge them to use such a basic facility. Were Ryanair not obligated to provide toilet facilities free of charge? Wasn’t this against consumer rights? How could they be allowed to do this? The public were not happy at all. Surely this backlash would negatively affect the Ryanair brand? Or would it?

It’s now 2017 and Ryanair has never charged a passenger to use their toilet facilities and in truth, they probably never intended to. However, the fact that this comment strategically came directly from the CEO, rather than from a disgruntled ex-employee or whistle-blower, gave the comments merit and the public fair reason to criticise.

I imagine there would have been a small down turn in business in the immediate aftermath, but over the long term, I believe the positives would have far outweighed the negatives. Firstly, the story made national news; this was page 1 material at the time and it got an amazing amount of traction. But it was the subliminal message it sent to the public which fascinated me and the story still appears as powerful today as it did six years ago.

After the dust had settled, what feeling were the public left with? From my own personal experience, Ryanair were at the forefront of my mind when looking to purchase a cheap flight; after all, these were the guys who were going to charge me to use the toilet, so they must be cheap, right? Ryanair’s demographic is not the passengers who turn left, but the cost-conscious consumer and the “spend a pound to spend a penny” PR stunt only cemented their reputation as the most notorious ‘cheap no thrills’ airline. As a consumer, it also lowered my service expectations, so it was a great delight to discover that I wouldn’t be flying in a plane that resembled the aircraft from the opening scene of Indiana Jones! Overall, the flight was no different to any other short haul trip I had made.

I now also feel little to no sympathy for the social media posts from people complaining about how they had to pay excess for an oversized bag etc, because in my mind’s eye I’m thinking, “what do you expect? Ryanair do what they say on the tin – you haven’t paid a premium to fly with Emirates”. This may be a little cold of me but I believe Ryanair’s clever marketing strategy has programmed me to think like this.

Ryanair may not be perfect, but for a budget airline they have achieved the perfect guise by under promising and over delivering.

In truth, there are very few circumstances where negative publicity can be good publicity and 99 out of 100 brands would agree. However, when the publicity is marketed just right, it can be very powerful

Rich Kids of Instagram

I often come across similar articles such as, “The Rich Kids of Instagram” or “The Snap Chat Elite” and when I’m skimming over the content a number of thoughts run through my head, some of which I won’t share with you. But there is always one particular recurring theme, where is the common sense?  And to be clear I say this to myself not out of envy or PR and image concerns but for security purposes.

By sharing your latest jewellery or automotive purchase on social media you’re also inadvertently advertising the fact you are a potentially lucrative target for an opportune criminal.

Take the below Instagram uploads taken from a prolific Insta-poster. This individual proudly shared his new Rolex purchase with his 24,000 followers, within the same 24 hours he had posted a bar receipt which was uploaded remotely  from the location and included the time and  address of the bar where he had earlier tagged himself in at.


The only reconnaissance an opportune criminal would need to do here would be to follow this individual on Instagram, and from that they would live access to where the mark is located, what jewellery they have on and what sports car they are driving.

It would hardly take the Pink Panthers to pull off this heist, would it?

Sticking with a similar theme we have recently seen a number of high profile robberies in Paris, with the criminals still at large having stolen millions of euro’s in cash and valuables, as well as assaulting the targets.  The victims were avid social media users often uploading informative images and using geo location check in. This leaves the victims extremely vulnerable and allows criminals to build up a target profile giving them insight of movement trends and behavioural patterns.

If Social media is not managed the right way it can pose a risk to both your online reputation and personal safety.

Is it time to start thinking of Twitter as a Search Engine?


Recently, I have noticed how my interaction as an individual with Twitter has changed. When I first created my profile and for some time afterwards, I used my personal handle to express some rather bland opinions, whether it be my critique of last night’s Walking Dead episode or my frustration at how Everton Football club were performing. It took me some time to realise that no one else was actually interacting or expressing interest in my tweets and of course, why would they? Other users could use Twitter to tweet the Walking Dead cast or the football players of my beloved club directly. They could also listen to official tweets from verified accounts or other commentators who had far more interesting and sometimes controversial opinions.

If people were not interested in me or my opinions, then why was I still using Twitter? What was I getting out of it? The answer was “information”: information about my interests, both personal and professional. I was using Twitter in a totally different fashion without even realising it.

My first instinct when I want to find out about a particular subject, such as breaking news, is to go to my Twitter profile. The reasons for this are twofold.

  1. I’m usually searching from my phone, as I’m not always at my desk: Twitter is easy to navigate and user friendly.
  2. I want bitesize information and want it quickly! Twitter is ideal for this.

Twitter also gathers other information that I find useful, such as people’s experiences with products and services as they interact with them. More and more people are starting to use Twitter to talk about brands in real time. This allows the tweeter to directly contact the brand or the observer involved to see how the company responds, as well as what the brand’s “Top Tweets” look like. By viewing these “Top Tweets” we are able to form an opinion based on official, direct posts and real time feedback from customers.

I am now no long using Twitter as a traditional social media tool but instead as a listening device of sorts: the closest comparison I can make is the way in which I use Google. Twitter is directly affecting my purchase habits – sometimes positively, other times negatively – depending on the information I find. In many occurrences Twitter acts as a precursor before my engagement with a brand, which will eventually be enacted through Google.

Of course Google will always be the daddy as it presents the user with far more relevant and varied information, but I can’t remember the last time I ran a Bing search or Yahoo’d something. I can, however, tell you the last time I checked my Twitter for information.

How to protect your personal information online

How to protect your personal information online

Even if you’ve never bought anything over the net, shared a social media post or signed up for an online newsletter your personal information is out there on the Internet. What’s more, information about you is changing hands behind your back without your knowledge or consent.

From government regulators to advertising bodies, from freedom of information campaigners to personal privacy advocates, powerful groups are battling over  how personal information is handled in the internet age.

How personal information is controlled and handled is a matter of finding the right balance. On the one hand, your data should be protected from companies using it purely for their own purposes, on the other hand, shared personal info makes for a quick and easy user experience when people browse, share and shop online.

By knowing what types of information is held about you and how that information is used you can turn your online profile to your own advantage. You don’t have to sacrifice your privacy and you don’t have to accept just being traded like a commodity by big data broker companies.

More information is collected online than you think

Internet data brokerages start with your credit history to get a basic snapshot of who you are, where you live, and what demographic groups you belong to. Next, they combine this with personal information derived from public government records to develop an even more detailed history.

This data forms the personal consumer information baseline, but data collectors don’t stop there. In the US, information about your past insurance claims and health history may be included, as well as any criminal records and how often your cheques bounce. They even factor in where you may have rented a home or commercial space, and even which charities you donate to.

All this information is ‘crunched’ together to form profiles for very large numbers of consumers. That information is for sale to companies who want to profit from it. Personal consumer information buyers include advertisers who want to know which products you’re most likely to purchase and insurers deciding how much to charge you for a policy, among others.

As detailed as that personal profile is, personal data is getting even more sophisticated in the Internet age. Now, online behavioural tracking companies can monitor which sites you visit, what you do on those sites as well as which ads you click or ignore. Your smartphone also shows your exact whereabouts, as well as your routines and even which shops and businesses you visit.

Not only do data companies sell this information to the highest bidder, regardless of the implications to your online privacy, now several new companies are also using this information to ‘rank’ individuals’ online reputations competitively versus other people.

Why sharing some information is good

The reasons for protecting your online information are obvious, but there are also good reasons for sharing certain aspects of your personal consumer information with outside parties.

A good example is Facebook. Some 600 million users are willing to share their personal information (albeit grudgingly at times). In return, they receive the ability to get status updates from friends easily, learn about new events and products that match their declared interests and ‘likes’, as well as get in touch with long lost acquaintances.

Location based services like FourSquare offer coupons and discounts to members who “check in” to certain businesses via their smartphones, essentially trading their personal consumer information for monetary value.

It’s possible to opt out of these services by setting privacy controls to full ‘secret squirrel’ mode and never using any sites or apps that require personal information for functionality, but you’re also opting out of online content that a lot of people value. No more restaurant special offers on SquareMeal, no more using your smartphone to find nearest shop, cinema or petrol station and no more getting well priced goods and services delivered to your door.

You have to give up some degree of online privacy to benefit from all these advantages offered by social media and e-commerce, but that shouldn’t mean having to share every last detail of your personal consumer information, either.

A few steps to protect your personal information online

Until stronger privacy control measures are adopted through industry efforts or government regulation, there are a couple of steps you can take to protect your privacy and stop the unrestricted collection of your personal consumer information by third parties.

1. Opt out.

Many of the people search and data brokerage services that collect your personal information have opt out functions. Exercise some caution, though, hiding your personal information may do more than limit the number and quality of YouTube videos you can see. You may find it harder to get a loan or credit card if lenders can’t see your credit history!

2. Stay up to date

Opting out of data brokerages works, but it’s not always permanent. Because the various companies that collect and collate information about private individuals use automated systems to gather this data, a deleted listing could ‘leak’ back into existence. New information is scooped up constantly, so these data houses may re-collect information about you from third party sources, even if you haven’t added new information anywhere since opting out.

Check your listing on data brokerages periodically to make sure that they haven’t inadvertently re-listed your information as part of their routine automatic data trawling.

Alternatively, you could use an online reputation management service, like ReputationDefender, which can suppress the information you don’t want shared, opting out of numerous data brokerages automatically and permanently, while presenting the right information about you in the right way. What’s more, the service automatically stays up to date, making sure that opted out information stays opted out.

Social Media in Sports

Social media is a great way for athletes to share information with their followers and supporters, keeping them up to date with professional milestones as well as allowing them to engage one-to-one. However, with this level of intimacy comes a degree of risk. At times social media can be misused, and with such large audiences, mistakes aren’t easily rectified. It is important that athletes are aware of their responsibilities and how to respond to negative situations should they arise.

All too often we have seen young athletes fall foul of social media “misuse”. What would seem like common sense to the club’s resident PR team isn’t necessarily going to occur to a casual social media user; we shouldn’t forget the majority of the time we are talking about teenagers/young adults, and in some cases elder professionals, who have had little to no media training.

It must have seemed like a dream come true for Sergi Guardiola when he signed for Barcelona at the age of 23. Yet within hours of signing, the forward was sacked after officials were alerted to “offensive tweets” he had posted two years ago about Barca and Catalonia.


Sergi Guardiola was only 21 when he sent out the tweet that would eventually turn his dream into a nightmare. While his defence was that a friend did it, the damage was already done. Whether or not he was responsible for the tweet, his name had become inextricably linked to the controversy.

Sergi Guardiola was a young man and, as most young men will do, he made a mistake. This mistake unfortunately cost him his biggest opportunity in a sport he loves, is that fair?  Some would argue yes, others would say no and, just like the sport we love dearly, it’s a game of opinions. I would sit on the fence with this one; whether or not he was responsible for the tweet, by not taking his public profile and personal security seriously he has clearly let himself and the club down. However, was Sergi Guardiola as big of a risk to the Barca Brand as, let’s say, Luis Suarez? The obvious difference here is that Luis Suarez is one of the world’s most successful and famous football players. The Barca machine obviously thought the risk was worth the reward for one but not the other and, as it turns out, so far they have been vindicated in their decision.

But just as Luis Suarez and many other Athletes are sent to sports psychiatrists to work through their demons, shouldn’t social media support also be offered pre-emptively? Perhaps inexperienced young athletes would benefit from guidance when it comes to social media use, privacy and security? Should the clubs responsible for the players be more proactive with the way in which they manage their players and social media use?

The answers to these questions are obviously all yes! There will always be the minority who will abuse or become victims of these platforms but most social media pitfalls can be easily avoided with some support and the right kind of education. You don’t have to be an industry expert to realise just how prevalent social media has become – it certainly isn’t going anywhere. It’s about time clubs not only considered their own social media use for commercial purposes but also understand that their players will do the same. If they want their players to represent themselves and the club in a positive manner, they need to equip them with the tools and education to do so.’s social media workshops are designed to give tomorrow’s sports stars an insight on how to make an impact on social media and avoid potential pitfalls, all while offering some additional basic reputation management tips.

Improve your reputation and your career prospects

­92 percent of employers/recruiters use or plan to use the internet when researching potential job candidatesThe paper resume has been swapped for your google search results, your employment history and references can be found on Linkedin, your interests and hobbies can be found on Facebook and Twitter, your cover letter can be found on your blog and your images can be found on Instagram and Pinterest.

More than ever the internet is being used as a point of reference and research for recruiters.  A staggering 92 percent of employers/recruiters use or plan to use the internet and more specifically social media sites when researching potential job candidates. LinkedIn is the industry favourite with 94 percent of recruiters using it. Potential employers won’t just stop there they will also scour Facebook, Twitter, Google+ in attempt to scrape as much relevant information as possible.

They are looking for any red flags such as incriminating photos and patterns of inconsiderate and irresponsible use, but let’s face it if you are guilty of this sort of immature behaviour and better yet you think it’s a good idea to share it every man and his do on the internet your probably not worth considering for that next big opportunity because quite frankly you’re not ready.

What your next employer will be looking for is someone who stands out from the crowd, someone who takes there personal brand and image seriously.  In today’s connected world, the most compelling job candidates are often those with a robust online footprint that shows their expertise, experience and engagement within their chosen industry whilst showing what type of worker they’re likely to be.

Use these three steps as your guide to improve your reputation and your career prospects;


1: Get up to date

It’s a worthwhile exercise to go through all your existing online profiles and bring them up to date, whether that’s with new images or content if you have taken the time to create them they should be maintained, an out of date profile looks lazy. Its also a sound idea to go through all your historical pictures and posts and ask yourself is this something you want to be connected with, it only takes 1 second to press the delete button.


  1. Get Active

What is your area of expertise? What topics do you want to be associated with? When someone searches for you online what do you want them to see? By creating unique and relevant content and by using the correct vehicles you can curate your own search results.  It takes 5 minutes to create a blog such as this one which gives you the opportunity to showcase your knowledge and talent. Think of page 1 of your search results as your CV, but you need to earn than real estate by keeping your blog, social media profiles and LinkedIn in up to date with quality and informative content.


  1. Connect

So many new positions are now filled before even being posted online.  They’re being filled through networking and todays’ networking is happening online. Online networking gives you the opportunity to put your personal brand on display but remember your network is only as good as the people in it. Ensure yours is full of relevant professionals who add value. If you’re starting from scratch, start by inviting your close friends and co-workers to join your network. Then look over their networks to see if you might benefit from knowing the people they know.

It may be tempting to neglect your online network once you have found a new job, but it pays dividends to nurture it. You never know what is around the corner and in challenging economic times, one can never be sure.

Online networks aren’t just job search tools. They act as an invaluable source of information, industry trends and career advice. Not to mention you will be better informed compared to the competition for all up and coming events and opportunities around your chosen industry.

For further information how we can help you get the online profile your career needs contact us or call us on 0800 131 0700 for a confidential consultation.

3 Hidden Pitfalls To Watch Out For;

Social media plays a huge role in online reputation management. With so many platforms available from Twitter to Instagram, facebook to Linkedin, their popularity in search results, and how quickly and easily they can spread information make them a powerful tool in your reputation management armoury.

With their popularity also come the consequences. It’s crucial to have a strong strategy in place for what types of content you’ll post, when you’ll be active, and how you will respond and interact with followers. It has a powerful effect on your reputation management because your actions can have an impact instantly. Press releases and traditional management tactics may take days or weeks to make a difference, what you say or do online can go viral in a matter of hours.

3 hidden pitfalls to watch out for;

1:  Image does matter

Images are an integral part of a social media profile, many of us agonise over the perfect profile picture for our LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter pages, other social sites such as Instagram and Pinterest display nothing but images. It is now essential to scrutinise the images that represent you , as the old saying goes “ A picture is worth a 1,000 words”. You have to ensure your photo array matches your general outlook, what is your message? What brand are you trying to create? How would you want people to perceive you?

2: Opinions do count

When it comes to your online reputation sharing smart and thought provoking content for blogs or a high quality feed of Instagram images is vitally important.

Original content is the key here you want to focus your efforts on the subjects you want to be associated with. Today everyone wants to be a thought leader but to achieve this you do in fact need thoughts, sharing duplicate content simply will not cut the mustard. Cover issues you are comfortable with, my expertise lies in reputation and creating original content around this subject matter supports my personal brand. Pieces such as this blog demonstrates my passion and understanding of the market and by sharing it in a strategic way I remain relevant in my field.

3: Everyone is getting reviewed

It’s not just your favourite restaurant or bar that’s being reviewed online, we as individuals are too. Of course we are not being designated an aggregated score or star rating, (although a certain review site caused somewhat of a stir in the press recently.) Indirectly people are reviewing us on the basis of how many followers/friends/connection we have, what are images look like, through shared sentiment such as recommendations on LinkedIn.

Having a proactive and positive approach to your social media activity will pay dividend here. Next time you enjoy a successful working relationship use LinkedIn to share an endorsement, when you next read a piece of content on Facebook that stimulates you share it, retweet the next interesting tweet you read. As well as expanding your network this kind of activity stimulates the reciprocants to do like for like and you will undoubtedly see an increase in endorsements, recommendations, shares and connections.

Everything you say and do on social media, has the power to build a new reputation, adapt an existing image, and solidify your current profile. Topics you ‘like’, what you ‘share’ and any comments you make, the content you create and the causes you support all affect how followers perceive you, rightly or wrongly.

Personal Brand Management

Personal Brand Management

We are all vulnerable to an online attack on our reputations; these attacks may present themselves in different forms but the more exposure we get, the greater the chance it may happen. A person with nothing to lose is not a typical target, more often than not the people who are being targeted are successful professionals whose reputations are a valuable asset. Frequently I am asked to consult at the point of crisis and over the years I have had countless conversations with individuals who spent years building up credible profiles and reputations offline only to be caught off guard online.

When in the eye of the storm it’s often difficult to see a way out, but there are steps one can take to minimise risk and prepare. Here are my simple tips to improve your personal brand management and pre-empt problems:


Trawling through the internet attempting to find personal mentions in press articles, social media profiles and blogs can be a difficult and time consuming task. There could potentially be entire conversations taking place online about yourself which you might never see. This is why it’s important to have an effective listening tool in place which automatically alerts you to any specific mentions of your name.

Google Alerts is a free service that produces a list of search results, based on criteria provided by you, and delivers those links straight to your e-mail account. This service has a number of uses, but can also be utilised to monitor the web for specific information about you or your company.

 Landscape grab

One of the most common methods an individual might use to orchestrate an online reputational attack is via a keyword rich domain. A keyword rich domain is one which includes the name of an individual or company, for instance These types of keyword rich domain names tend to rank highly in search engines for personal search terms, often appearing on page 1 with little technical support; my personal website has an automatic number 3 ranking in the top 10 search results for the term ‘Tony McChrystal’. If one or more of these domains were to fall into the wrong hands considerable damage can be inflicted. I have also seen multiple instances of domain squatting and attempts to ransom the domains to the associated individuals.  A high profile example of this was the case of Richard Branson.

To combat this, make sure you register your top ranking domains:

And so on…

Social Media Presence

Today’s online user increasingly refers to social media for information regarding products, services and individuals.  What drives this is the need for real information from real people instantly. If you do not have a voice on such platforms, the online user will navigate to third party profiles for this information; these profiles could potentially be displaying negative information which you have no control over.

A verified official profile will always rank top of any searches conducted on social media. As the top search result this will naturally attract more traffic, this way you can have a form of control over what content your audience are being presented with.


Parody accounts are commonplace on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Such accounts can be taken down by the relevant administrators, but in order for this to happen, you need to know they exist. By using your own official account you more likely to come across them and administrators are more likely to address enquiries promptly and favourably if the take down request is coming from an established verified profile.

Content creation

Once you have control over these assets, they then need to be populated with accurate and interesting content. By promoting these sites and profiles you are adding relevance to them, which in turn will increase their authority. Creating and optimising trusted assets enables you have a vehicle to communicate to potential customers, investors, partners or journalists.

Page 1 of Google is your shop window. The more assets you own or control on that page, the more control you have over your reputation. By proactively managing your online presence you are at the same time building sufficient preventative strength in your search results to protect any future unwelcome content.

TalkTalk Cyber Attack

TalkTalk Cyber Attack:    ReputationDefender top 5 tips to keep your data safe.


Last week communications provider TalkTalk came forward to admit a cyber attack on its website could have led to the theft of private data from it’s UK customer base.   The company’s website and computer systems have been compromised three times in just eight months, putting the personal details of up to four million UK customers at risk.  The data in question hadn’t been encrypted, arguably not a legal requirement, but one could argue TalkTalk’s data ethics would have led them to encrypt client data, safeguarding against further cyber attack.

Talk Talk isn’t sure which customers details have been stolen so they cannot look to isolate the problem or identify the customers most at risk. Although TalkTalk have admitted the breach, they are confident the data taken is not enough to cause direct theft from bank accounts or credit cards.    However, lists of customers’ details are understood to be circulating around the dark web, where the following customer information will be currently be up for sale to the highest bidder;

  • Customer names and postal addresses
  • Dates of birth
  • Email addresses
  • Telephone numbers
  • TalkTalk account information
  • Partial credit card details
  • Bank account numbers and sort codes

Unfortunately once this data makes its way onto the dark web it can be passed among criminal gangs for years .We  have  already seen reports of phishing and telephone scams where the victims have received phone calls from the perpetrators armed with their personal TalkTalk account details and have been tricked into handing over their bank details.

There are of course some precautions Talk Talk customers should be taking at this moment in time.

Tony McChrystal, ReputationDefender EMEA Director offer his top 5 tips to help keep your online data safe.

1: Beware of scam calls.

As we have already discussed the scammers need further information to gain access to your bank details. Be cautious of any telephone calls claiming to be from TalkTalk, under no circumstances share any private information.

TalkTalk have this week said it never asks customers to give their full passwords or Pin codes over the telephone.

2: Be careful of emails too.

Using basic design software, scammers can mock up and send very convincing emails that look very official but are actually attackers trying to gather your personal information.

They may even refer to the cyberattack scandal in an attempt to appear genuine.

Again do not share any personal information click on a link or open an attachment. Criminals can set up corporate looking websites to obtain your trust and harvest your account details.

3: Monitor your bank account.

Check your bank account regularly; keep an eye for any unfamiliar looking transactions irrelevant of the amount. Even a £1 transaction could potentially be a risk.

4: Passwords

Talk Talk are advising all customers to change their account passwords as soon as possible.

If like many others you recycle your password across multiple accounts it is just as important to change these.  Attackers may have harvested usernames, email addresses and passwords from TalkTalk which could let them unlock other services such as your email.

If you are in doubt contact Talk Talk directly to verify any recent communication.

5: Talk to a privacy specialist

ReputationDefender find where your data is in the darkest recesses of the Internet and make sure it’s removed and protected for the future. Patented technology supported by a Privacy expert provide unparalled Digital Privacy Protection.

The benefits of online banking and online account management are there for all to see but unfortunately this convenience comes with a real risk, it’s the responsibility of our service providers to manage that risk as best they can but by following the above tips we can also help ourselves.

The Impact of Social Media on Young People; should social media workshops be part of the National Curriculum?

I would describe myself as an avid social media observer rather than user. Contributing to social media discussions by posting and commenting should be something that we take considerable care over and in no demographic is this more apparent and applicable than teenagers and young adults.  The significance and impact of a throw away comment/retweet/picture on a twitter feed or Facebook page should not be underestimated as social media has changed the way we communicate; private conversations can become public and public conversations can become viral.

At 31 am one of the senior statesman in our office and the majority of my team and teams that surround me are occupied by younger, hipper and far more innovative individuals than myself. What they also all have in common is some degree of social media awareness and whether or not they know it, they had this particular skill set before they were employed.  When listening to social media, I am not convinced other young adults and teenagers share this awareness, in fact I would say the majority are in desperate need of education and support so they can understand how to use social media responsibly. This is supported by a lot of the conversations I have had over the past five years  with younger people who have fallen into the trap of misusing social media to the point where this has impacted on their own reputation so much that they now believe it is hindering their chances of employment.

With this in mind, take a look at Piers Morgan’s next tweet and look at the response he receives.  Now I am certainly not declaring myself a Piers Morgan fan but I am currently looking at his last tweet which was a simple reference to a plastic surgery article. It received over a dozen responses, 90% of which I cannot reference due to the language and general abuse used. Let’s look a little deeper; one of the comments posted was uploaded by what would seem to be a young man from the U.K. in which several profanities were used which contributed to a very unpleasant message.  This comment is visible on both Piers Morgan’s and more importantly the individual’s profile which is available for all to see. With an individual like Piers who regularly responds to such abuse, there is also the possibility of this comment going viral and as a result being presented directly to Google. What this means is that if you were to Google the individual’s name you would be likely to see the same offensive comment on page one of his search results. As an industry insider, let me tell you, this happens more often than you would expect.

Comments that often contain abuse come from what would look like made up handles with generic images and are often referred to as ‘Trolls’. We can speculate as to what kind of person would write such obscene comments on a public platform and whilst this type of person is not the target audience for this particular article, it does represent an excellent example of how an ill thought out comment could potentially go viral. It’s the younger generation we need to look out and take responsibility for.

It’s very difficult for a parent to police social media and if they do not allow their children to use the internet, they are in danger of alienating them. Most parents and adults today grew up using landline telephones, buying CD’s from the high street and knocking on doors for friends. They are not as well versed in social media as the next generation of parents will be which means there is currently a whole generation who are not receiving the kind of guidance and support required to use social media in a responsible way.  One real opportunity that could address this issue is to start simple workshops in schools for children from the age of 13 as the way they use social media will undoubtedly have an impact on how they are perceived by others.

We cannot expect teens and young adults to use social media responsibly without the right sort of prior guidance just as we wouldn’t expect them to be able to complete an algebraic equation without first being taught the rules required to solve it.