Learning to inspire


Mentoring is a powerful personal development and empowerment tool.

It’s an effective way of helping people to progress in their careers and is becoming increasing popular as its potential is realised. It is a helpful relationship between two people (mentor and mentee) based upon mutual trust and respect. The mentor guides the mentee in finding the right direction, helping them develop solutions to career issues and think about career options and progress.

Tessa O’Neill, IABC UK President talks about her experience of mentoring and inspiring others as well as the rewards of being a mentor.

You learn about yourself and realise you know a lot more than you probably think you did.

As a mentee, you get the chance to look more closely at yourself, your issues, opportunities and what you want in life.
Mentoring can help you:

  • Become more self aware about strengths and weaknesses
  • Take responsibility for your life
  • Direct your life in the direction you decide, rather than leaving it to chance.

Read more about 7 Habits of highly successful mentors and meentes

How to engage South African style


You can’t get solid experience without engagement.  That was the topic I  covered at  the South Africa / UK Communicator’s Breakfast, hosted by Lisa Wannell at the VMA Group HQ in London’s leafy Bedford Square.

Specifically, I shared insights from the recent #IABCafrica14 conference in Cape Town. The attendees at the VMA session were from a range of corporates; agencies; freelancers – and also a senior communicator with experience of the workings of the South African government.

You know A-Z but how about an S through A? Here’s a brief index of experience and engagement opportunities in S-O-U-T-H-A-F-R-I-C-A:

  • S – is for Social – and it is still growing – for example, 3m people are now on LinkedIn (vs. 17m for the UK) [for context, compare population counts of 52m vs 64m ].
    • Tip: if you’re looking to operate in South Africa, get ahead of the curve and be sure to have a social presence. The LinkedIn Executive Playbook may come in handy if you want to lead from the front.
  • U – is for Underground – who knew De Beers have coal mines too? (To be fair, they have a point: it is all carbon – some of it is just more dense).
    • Tip: more to the point, there are some real good practice gems out there to be picked up – not to mention an opportunity for yours to be recognised: http://gq.iabc.com/

Read more

3 common mistakes in using social media and how to prevent them

 No. 1: Embracing social media without a strategy and vision

Using social media in corporate communications without a clear vision, purpose and strategy in place is a recipe for disaster.  It means going nowhere.  A clear symptom is the appearance of thousands of groups with only 2-3 members in each.


  • Think of social media as a business journey, a transformation in the way your organisation communicates.
  • Link your social media initiatives to clear business objectives.
  • Start with awareness, acceptance and participation from the leaders.
  • Have devoted community managers who understand how to manage relationships on the network.
  • Gain strong support from advocates, your early adopters and champions who understand social media.
  • Have simple guidelines in place, and also make sure you train and educate your employees.
  • Allow people to experiment with the tools, and take their time to familiarise with them.

No. 2: Underestimating Brand Vandals

Brand Vandals are defined by Stephen Waddington and Steve Earl as social media users who publicly and vociferously criticise your organisation. They are not just members of an external community, but they can be your own employees too. When employees turn to social media for complaining and sharing their grievances a company and its corporate communicators have some major issues to deal with.


  • Engage with your employees more and encourage an honest working environment.  Take steps to rebuild trust and to openly communicate with employees.
  • Inspire healthy debates inside the organisation through enterprise social networks (ESN).  ESNs encourage sharing knowledge and information: they create two-way dialogues, reduce power distance, connect colleagues globally; they give employees a voice, allow them to make meaningful contribution and innovations, increase engagement and satisfaction (Altimeter, 2012).

No. 3: Focusing on technology rather than on behaviours
Many social media initiatives fail because of too much focus on technology and too little on behaviours.


  • Look at engaging with your stakeholders through a new type of relationship, one based on shared values and listening. In social and digital media today people are seeking authentic conversations. They don’t want a canned response.
  • Help your organisation turn into a social enterprise by utilising social technologies – and not just technologies – but social attitudes and the preferences of everyone involved in the enterprise to help run the business.

Further reading:

Brand Vandals: Reputation Wreckers and How to Build Better Defences: Corporate Reputation Risk and Response
Authors: Waddington, Stephen and Earl, Steve, 2013

Making the Business Case for Enterprise Social Networking. Focus on Relationship to Drive Value
Author: Charlene Li, Altimeter, 2012.

Gloria LombardiArticle written by Gloria Lombardi
Community & Editorial Manager, simply-communicate.com
Follow Gloria on Twitter: @LOMBARDI_GLORIA