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Planning Retirement Online

Beyond the Headlines

July 2015


By Jeanne DavisJeanne Davis

Each month our resident writer and commentator Jeanne Davis goes behind recent news stories to comment on various ideas and subjects that have special resonance for our age group.

Written in her usual thought provoking and entertaining style, we know you will enjoy this addition every month

To view all of Jeanne's articles visit the Interest Index.

It’s Never Too Late To Learn

Flipping the traditional relationship helps young and old

“Don Baer, the 60-year-old chairman and CEO of one of the world’s largest public relations companies, has had plenty of mentors. His latest is half his age.

The Burson-Marsteller executive says he and a junior colleague spend their mentoring sessions discussing everything from what’s new in social media and ways it can be used to spread the clients’ messages to how to take a selfie with Baer’s iPhone.

Baer is such a believer in the benefits of having a young mentor that he has urged some other Burson-Marsteller managers in the 2,500-person global firm to find one, too.

‘A lot of this was to help those of us who didn’t grow up in the digital and social media environment to understand better what was going on,’ he says.

“The Burson-Marsteller experience is called reverse mentoring – younger staffers teaching those several rungs above them on the career ladder,” reports Eileen Ambrose, in the AARP Bulletin, a publication of the U.S. 50 plus association. “Reverse mentoring programs aren’t widespread in the business world just yet, but expect to hear more about it as employers increasingly find themselves with a workforce spanning multiple generations.”

Why Social Media?

Like some of these executives, I didn‘t grow up in the digital and social media environment. Mid-career I had to learn to use the computer and eventually the internet. Social media was still on the horizon. Now some years later I’m confronted with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, et al.

I’m a volunteer at Reach, the charity that places skilled volunteers with the charities that need their help. Reach uses every one of these social media sites to spread their message to key stakeholders – to the volunteers, to the charities that need help, to the funders, to government. Social media is a two-way street, interactive, prompting dialogues and an instant reaction. Gone are the days when marketing was a one-way street

Is It For Me?

I’ve been increasingly tempted to discover what social media could do for me. I know Facebook would keep me in touch with friends and family. LinkedIn is for professional networking and special interest groups. But Twitter?

What are those people endlessly tapping about day and night, heads bent over their phones on the bus, on the tube, in a restaurant? Aside, of course, gossiping with friends or saying you’re late for work. I’m chuffed to learn that Twitter is a powerful tool to mount a campaign. Gone are the days when you write a letter to The Times to right a wrong and hope, maybe, it will be published.

Witness the recent success of tennis fans complaining about the new BBC format for rounding up the day’s events at Wimbledon. It was promoted with great fanfare, a gimmicky gathering of fans and commentators, in a pub-like setting far from the courts. Viewers were on their iPhones and iPads and computers instantly, gathering thousands of followers and protesters, slamming ‘strange’ camera angles, the ‘bored’ live audience and lack of intelligent analysis.

Within two days the programme was revamped. The pub disappeared, the staged audience dispensed with, and experienced pundits were back, close to centre court, telling the viewers what they wanted to know -- about tennis!

Last year, I wrote a column in laterlife about the recall of a sports watch Fitbit that caused burns and blisters on user’s wrists. I didn’t mention it then, but now I recall that the great news in that story was about the power of social media. It was the first time that only the power of a social media campaign had got a product off the market. And within a remarkable time of two weeks.

How To Get Help? Ask the Young

YouTube! My granddaughter was visiting recently. I hear gales of laughter. She’s looking at a video on her phone. “What’s so funny?” I want to know. Someone’s falling down the stairs, over and over again. I like to laugh, too. I’m jealous. Maybe I’ll get on YouTube and find something else, not someone tumbling down the stairs, that I think is funny. I need to laugh more, even if I am laughing all alone.

And there are a lot of issues I’d like to discuss on Twitter and help to shape some changes.

Who to go to for help? I can’t wait for my granddaughter to visit again from South Africa. I might prevail on the young staff at Reach to teach me how to link to and navigate these sites. But there are four university students renting the flat next to me. I think I’ll invite them in for Sunday brunch and a mentoring session.

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