It prompted interesting thoughts around the impact of wikileaks on corporate comms.
My take on the night was concerned with potential unintended consequences:-
the call for opennes and transparency will lead to more secrecy (remember the FOI Act?)
transfering control of information from one media to another (and the new media is unregulated!)
the potential for manipulation (political control, share prices).
My final reflection is that although most of the conversation last night was around new media and technology, I’m not sure it’s relevant. I suspect that I am part of a majority who consumed the Wikileaks information through traditional media, I haven’t even viewed the site! Ironically, the “whistleblowers” didn’t even use the site to upload their their dossiers – they handed them over on discs and memory sticks and hard documents – so they didn’t even use the Wiki. I suspect whistleblowers fear they are more likely to be traced if they upload their information onto a site.
It seems to me that the Wikileaks phenonmena is a situation where the custodians of the media and the sources of the information are making decisions on what information to share and use sensationalism to get interest. They present themselves as the ‘voice of the people’, claiming to represent public interest, without really understanding who the public are, never mind their interests. Arguably pursuing their own personal and political agendas without regard to the wider consequences like national security and economy.
So what has changed? Not a lot, it’s just got less regulated.
Heaven forbid, there may be a WikiMurdoch just around the corner.
Interesting news that Bank of America to follow the lead of Paypal and Mastercard and are stopping transactions for Wikileaks. Brilliant news for the conspiracy theorists:-
Interesting to see which one you vote for.
Whatever BoA’s motives, Wikileaks is fighting back by asking BoA customers to cancel their accounts. Interesting to see which brand ultimately wins the war, raising the stakes for employee brand engagement – building your brand from the inside out. If it’s a battle for hearts and minds of your closest stakeholdesr, it looks like BoA are losing.
So what makes a Brand Assassin – an employee who feels compelled to leak sensitive data which will inevitably damage the reputation of their employer? There are a host of events that could trigger such action – fall out with boss, overlooked promotion or even fired. But these are only triggers. The fact is the employee must feel justified and probably because they have an insight into their organisations behaviour that doesn’t match what they tell the outside world.
Take former Merrill Lynch employee, Hal Blackwell who was fired in 2009. The bank claims he had violated their policies regarding contact with governmental entities, outside business entities, conflicts of interest and outside speaking engagements. Blackwell believes Merrill fired him because he repeatedly complained to his supervisors about firm practices that, he says, were detrimental to the best interests of his clients. Blackwell alleges that management was without a doubt aware in 2008 that the bank had a huge liquidity problem – and was telling its clients and investors otherwise, telling its advisors to do anything to make sure investors kept their money in equities and annuitized investments.
If his allegations are true and uncovered through Wikileaks then BoA’s first punch could well be their last and below the belt at that!