I was on a photoshoot recently with top comedian and Planet Rock Radio presenter, Al Murray, who was going through his routine of a thousand faces for the camera when he was directed to pose in the ‘Three Wise Monkeys’ pictorial proverb.
Looking at the images, it made me think about the meaning of the maxim – ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’, with an arms-folded monkey depicting ‘do no evil’ being added occasionally.
As a powerful, multi-faceted discipline, PR uses these principles well to manage reputations and influence what people hear and say about a brand and what they do and say in response.
After years of working in PR I am acutely aware of how our actions affect what people think about us. This led me to question this on a personal level and whether, rather than being a positive thing, it can actually have a negative impact on our behaviour by making us far too inhibited.
This was particularly evident recently in the aftermath of the local elections when I noticed a discussion break-out amongst my Facebook friends on the subject of UKIP and their success in gaining Council seats.
I got the distinct impression that, apart from only a couple of posts which were quite opinionated, people were shying away from commenting on such a controversial subject. Due to the very large number of ‘likes’ on the two posts, I surmised that this may have been due to the fear of rejection or disapproval from their peers about their own opinion.
This made me focus in on myself and question whether I am also too reserved in a public arena and when it is, or isn’t, appropriate to be myself. Having caught myself hesitating to circulate an interesting story believing that readers would assume the content was my personal view-point, this analysis of my own behaviour may be just in time.
With social media being at the centre of our interaction with others, we are fast becoming what we share not what we eat and I have written previously about the importance of authenticity in a social networking capacity.
But achieving the right balance and addressing the dilemma of how much of ourselves to share without compromising our integrity, or affecting our reputation, is far more complex.
Perhaps it is one question that only we, ourselves, can answer…but maybe with the guidance from the proverbial primates.
Images by Nick Elliott