I had some property stolen. Intellectual property, that is. As a company that conducts and distributes original research, we get ripped off now and then. “Ripped off” meaning that people use our material without attribution or, in the most egregious example of intellectual miniaturization, they present it as their own material. I take this very, very seriously.
The Plagiarizer as Teacher
Recently, a consultant blatantly took content from my 105 Ways to Build Relationships Your Legislators booklet and published it in a state society magazine as his content. After a motivational letter from my attorney, he admitted to the offense and removed the material. Alas, this was another “learning moment” for me.
This experience made me think of two things: Number one, who we allow to advise us, and number two, the importance of having and protecting an original grassroots and PAC brand.
From Whom Do You Take Advice?
The plagiarism incident reinforced my belief that we must always “consider the source.” My plagiarizer friend interestingly conducts seminars on how to lobby. My attorney found that he included some “tips” for communicating with legislators on his website. The one that amused us was to “do your own research.”
I do not accept publishing and advice from someone who has never been commercially published. I do not work with PR people that I’ve never heard of. I do not accept speech coaching advice from someone who is charging $1,500.00 for a keynote they have never delivered, or from the “communications expert” who has never been hired as a keynote speaker. If someone has technical or web marketing advice, they better have a fabulous website. If they are giving suggestions on image and personal presence, their appearance should knock my socks off.
Think about it. Should you take advice from someone who has never had to motivate a grassroots volunteer, persuade a CEO to spend money on your program, or make personal phone calls for PAC money?
I am aware of an organization for government relations professionals that does not return member phone calls if they find out that the member is affiliated with a competing organization. One of the services they provide for members is advice on how to build grassroots networks. Maybe one of their pieces of advice for keeping people engaged is to ignore people who exercise free choice.
Who are you listening to? In the words of the world-class executive coach and author Marshall Goldsmith, PhD, “Just because you’re on third base doesn’t mean you hit a triple.”