Tuesday, 28 February 2012

16. When someone new takes a prominent job in your area use the internet to check their views/past. Don't rely on prs.

It really can't be stressed enough that whenever possible you should always go back to source.

And that equally applies to people.

A new appointment is often accompanied by a press release telling you everything you need to know about the post-holder.

Or more to the point everything they (note the sinister use of italics) want you to know about their latest appointee.

Frequently there is a whole history out there that no one is telling you about - and for a few taps on the computer or a couple of calls you can dig up a whole page lead length of story...or indeed uncover useful facts.

Take this for example about Cornwall Council's new Corporate Director for Children, Schools and Families. That story appeared in the Daily Mail and, horror of horrors, involves ringing someone outside the patch. But it is a relatively simple thing to do.

As I showed a reporter while editor of a paper in Dorset with the instalment of a new creative director for a local theatre.

Just tap there name into Google and see what happens. The result was a front page splash for the Lyme Regis edition of the paper. (I doubt if the tip was ever used again after I left but it does work).

Not quite sure what it is about theatre directors but I used it in Cornwall as you can see it doesn't always have to be controversial but it gives some idea of the person taking the reins and gives some indication of their intentions based on their previous experience...ok and it got me an extra few pars.

The fact is that by going back to source you can find all a person's friends and enemies - why did they leave? Was it under a cloud or will they be missed? What can the workers expect? Is he a hatchet wo/man or a great boss? What is their philosophy? Actually do they even know what philosophy means?

Essentially what you are doing is taking it one step further than what the normal person would do. You should be informative - simply ripping off the presser and chucking in a couple of "I'm delighted" quotes ain't good enough...or perhaps it is.

But it can mean the difference between a back of the book page lead and a front page splash. It will also help during interviews - background is important, you can expand on themes from previous interviews; see if opinions have changed or been tempered by previous experiences. In short it gives you a starting base that is so much more useful than a press release.

And make no mistake - everyone - who is anywhere even near management in 2012 will have an Internet presence. And if they haven't - start making lots of calls.

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