There's a wonderful, cautionary, example over on the ideal government blog about why you should be very wary of letting a PR person use your name informally online. It involves William Heath, who as chairman of Kable Ltd, is pretty well known in UK public sector technology; attendance at the recent UKGovwebBarcamp; and ICELE, funded by Government to promote eDemocracy, citizen empowerment and the like. ICELE are rather keen to promote a big conference in a couple of weeks time. William writes:
Do I know Fraser Henderson?
Someone called Susie Ruston from something called 21cConsultancy sends me a personal invitation to some citizen empowerment symposium
"My colleague Fraser Henderson mentioned he recently met you at a BarCamp event at Googles offices and that you were interested in receiving more information about the next International eParticipation and Local Democracy Symposium blah blah blah Citizen engagement is a key priority to the UK Government as demonstrated by the launch of the CLG ‘Action Plan for Community Empowerment’....Secretary of State, Rt Hon Hazel Blears....Governments position...Action Plan...Symposium....etc etc etc"
Well, it ain’t that personal. I’ve never heard of Fraser Henderson. He certainly didnt meet me at the Google offices because I wasn’t at BarCamp. And who in their right mind goes about expressing interest in eParticipation Symposia? Not me. So this is either a misunderstanding or a fib. I expect everyone who put their email address to the Barcamp thing is getting Susie’s PR sweet talk. What a drag. I wonder if this 21c outfit is Romanian?
There then follow several comments on the lines of |"I got one of those and wasn't at Barcamp either" concluding with another from William (or admin, which I presume is him)
I don’t know you so I didnt open your attachment. Nor do I know Fraser Henderson so either he misled you or you’re taking his name in vain. Nor was I at Barcamp. And I never expressed any interest in e-participation symposia.
So what’s happened here? Where did you get my email address from, also those of my friends Jeremy and Sam?
Also, what is 21cconsultancy? The only record I can find is something in egovmonitor which says 21cConsultancy is a “professional firm”
Well, I was at Barcamp, and do know Fraser, centre manager for ICELE, who has always been perfectly charming, and who did say he hoped to see me at the symposium. But you won't find much Googling Fraser, which may explain William's puzzlement.
I can't make it to the symposium because I'll be at the Circuit Rider Conference running a workshop with Laura Whitehead and Nick Booth. I hope it will, anyway, be a bit more empowering than the symposium agenda, which looks heavy with plenaries and panels aimed at people in government. Quite the reverse of Barcamp.
Anyway, event preferences aside, it seems to me that the lesson here is, if you are in the online business, but choose not to have a profile online, it's a big mistake to delegate online presence to a PR person. Or maybe there was just some misunderstanding. Either way I think Fraser and Susie should hurry over to William's place and explain. Currently William's piece is the top Google hit for Fraser Henderson ... which isn't good PR. Let's all link there:-)
Fraser and William have now connected via comments on William's blog, and look set for a friendly meetup. Second lesson: with a cheery wave, these things can turn out well. Hope I haven't been too humourless here ... but there is something important about being yourself online (even in emails) buried in this.