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In business and elsewhere, somebody's always watching you
There is always somebody watching you. This has become more evident wit the number of ninja pics that appear online and through social media and through sites - photo by Jeremy Kartchner
Growing up in the 1980s, I remember liking Rockwells "Somebodys Watching" Me. As far as I know, he was a one-hit wonder, but I find I still like that song. I even have it on my iTunes. At the time it was different and kind of funny.

Looking back on the song though, there is some truth to it. There is always somebody watching you. This has become more evident with the number of ninja pics that appear online, and through social media and through sites like The People of Walmart.

From a public relations perspective this creates some nervousness and requires some training to be ready for and prepare for this.

Let me share some examples to illustrate the point.

I have a friend who was heading to a client meeting that was scheduled for just after the lunch hour. He ended up spending most of his lunch break preparing for the meeting.

On his way to the meeting, he stopped and picked up some tacos at a local fast food joint. He went through the drive thru and drove to the clients office. Upon arriving, he sat in the parking lot to eat his tacos.

He was in a hurry and proceeded to eat fast so he wouldnt be late. When he finished his tacos, he got out of his car and walked into the office. When he walked in, the receptionist smiled and said, You must have been hungry by the way you devoured those tacos.

My friend smiled and agreed he was hungry. He knew he had eaten fast, but he was now wondering what it must have looked like. Without knowing it, he had been watched while he quickly ate his tacos, and he was left wondering what impression he had left.

Here are five tips to help remind you that somebodys always watching and to help you avoid embarrassing yourself.

  • If you dont want to be heard saying, dont say it in public. In a previous blog, I wrote about how youre always on the record. Be aware of your surroundings. If youre at an airport waiting in the terminal or on the plane and you say or do something inappropriate, it can be repeated or used by a reporter in a potential story. Be careful about who is around you and who could hear or see you. If its sensitive or confidential information, wait to talk about it until you know youre alone.
  • If you dont want to be seen doing something then dont do it in public. How many times has a celebrity or athlete been caught on film or seen doing something embarrassing? It seems to happen all the time, and we seem to find out about it more often now due to social media and constant social sharing. In a famous Seinfeld episode called The Pick," Jerry got caught in what looked like picking his nose. There are always things you need to do, but some things, like picking your nose should be done in private.
  • Be aware of open mics or recording devices. During the last presidential campaign, Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama got caught saying things they didnt intend for the general public to hear. They got lambasted for the things they said and then had to answer questions about what they said and try to defend themselves. In one instance that happened years ago, a client was speaking at an industry event. He did an amazing job, and the crowd loved his presentation. As he sat down, he whispered to a colleague something along the lines of how his speech had just destroyed their largest competitor. This individual had forgotten to take his mic off his lapel, and the entire audience, including their competitor heard his comment
  • Be aware of what information is available to see. Be conscious of what youve got written on the whiteboard in your office, whats showing on your computer screen or what papers are on your desk for anybody and everybody to see. If a reporter, or anybody for that matter, sees something on your whiteboard they can use it. A few years ago I set up a media interview for a client. The interview was held in the clients office, specifically the CEO's office. As we talked, the CEO invited the reporter to come around the desk to see a demo on his computer. As the reporter and I moved around the desk, I noticed the companys bank statement and payroll report sitting on the CEO's desk. I quickly sat on the papers to shield them from the reporter. Had the reporter seen those documents he could have used them in his article.
  • Check and double-check. If you want to say something in confidence or do something without an audience, check to make sure youre alone or that nobodys going to see you. My brother-in-law likes to work on and fix up old cars. He has a system hes set up to check and then double-check that hes followed the proper steps to ensure that hes fixed, repaired or replaced the things he needs. It takes him a few extra minutes but in the long run it saves him future problems because hes checked and double-checked his work to make sure its done right.
I once heard somebody say his policy is to never write anything down, dont take any photos and to deny, deny, deny. While I dont recommend this as an effective policy, I do believe you can take certain precautions to ensure that even though youre always being watched you arent embarrassing yourself or hurting your personal brand by doing something youll later regret.

I have a good friend who says he follows two basic rules: Dont do anything that will embarrass his employer, and dont do anything that would embarrass his mother. Those are pretty solid guidelines and when you think about it, if you follow and adhere to those guidelines youll save yourself a lot of potential embarrassment.
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