Many managers cringe when they hear the word activist. Because, activists as a stakeholder group can potentially damage an organisation’s reputation if relationships with them are not carefully built, understood and maintained.
I have always been intrigued how in movies, psychologists trying to track a serial murderer, try and become that person. They study that person’s motives, habits, appearance, background, etc. So, One of the best ways is to learn to be an activist yourself. By learning to become an activist, you will prepare yourself to handle potential reputational crises and campaigns against your organisation.
The Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town call this the immersion principle. Immerse yourself until you fully understand all there is to be an activist.
Trouble is that these days, activists are no longer a plural word. A single person today has tools at their disposal to start a one person crusade. Technologies such as Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social networks have increased the potential power of an individual, and companies should prepare themselves for online campaigns and other means of mobilisation.
Here then is a link to a free online course called The Virtual Activist – http://www.netaction.org/training/v-training.html – The course needs updating, but if you are a Twitter user, Facebook or MySpace follower, then you will learn a lot from this course.
The Virtual Activist illustrate why the communications efforts of social activists, including nongovernmental organizations, are so successful. Activists provide their supporters with both information and strategic and tactical tools. The combination of information and tools empowers people to take action, including communications or PR activities.
To further equip yourself, I can recommend the following site which should bring you up to speed: http://mashable.com/category/how-to-web/ with the latest Social Media tools and approaches.