Tuesday, July 24

Publicizing Bans: ERE Network

Although I've always liked David Manaster, CEO of Electronic Recruiting Exchange (ERE) Network, which is the largest active community of recruiting professionals online, he recently published something on his blog that left me confused. There seems to be little communication logic behind publishing the banishment of a member from his organization.

"To date, I've avoided posting about this decision because I didn't want to needlessly embarrass anyone (which is also why I am not using her name in this post)," he wrote. "However, my lack of explanation and transparency in decision-making has resulted in a number of people publicly speculating about what happened, and that is further disrupting the experience of the silent majority on the ERE site — the exact opposite of the intended effect."

While the most obvious is that silence always leads to speculation, there are several other problems with his post from a communication perspective. Today, I'll share the first two. First, Manaster writes that "the other 49,990 members of the network don't care about these personal disputes." Yet, that didn't stop him from sharing this personal dispute with the rest of the world. Second, since everyone in ERE already knew who he was talking about, how does not mentioning her name make any difference?

Now it seems Karen Mattonen, the person Manaster referenced in his post, wants to know too. She posted several questions along with her side of the story, which includes, among other things, dated e-mails and several other names of those involved. One of the e-mails is from Manaster that says: "We can have any conversations that we need to via email, and they will remain private unless you choose to take our conversations public. What is it that you would like to discuss?"

Regardless of which side (if there are sides) people fall on, one thing is certain. It is never a good idea to publish someone's banishment (or loss of employment) on a blog because it broadens the debate and could potentially lead to other problems. In fact, companies might like to know that even journalists will respect "no comment" if the explanation would force the CEO to share a personal evaluation about a former member or employee. A better answer might have been: ask Ms. Mattonen.

Sooner or later, someone always comes forward with additional information that could cause a communication crisis, one that seems to lend itself to a case study. In this case, the person who came forward was Mattonen herself.



Rich on 7/25/07, 7:30 AM said...


Besides the link referenced above, it seems Karen Mattonen has found a new online as a guest blogger for Jim Stroud, who serves Microsoft as a technical sourcing consultant and is a regular contributor to Microsoft’s Technical Careers Blog.

David Manaster gave me a call last night, but I was unable to take it. I am hoping we have a chance to catch up today.

Hopefully, I'll be able to follow up with a post tomorrow (or early next week at the latest) so this makes more sense for the majority who no idea what this is about. In a nut shell and from my perspective, the issue crosses industry lines in that writing about once active association members is fraught with peril, even those who belong to looser fan groups or social networks.

None of what I write speaks of Manaster as a person. As stated, I've always liked him. More to the point, even good people sometimes make communication mistakes. Their ability to address them often means the difference between how they are perceived by the greater public.

All my best,

The link to Stroud's site...

Sweet Tea on 7/25/07, 1:14 PM said...

I'll be interested to hear more about this.

Rich on 7/26/07, 11:36 AM said...

Hey JS,

Well, I did my best to present it. I suppose if you get the post on this topic, then I succeeded in presenting something worthwhile. Some of it reminds me of something that was occurring in an even looser organization of people. Yes?

All my best,


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