Booked

Mon, Dec 10, 2012, 00:00

Share This: Edited by Stephen Waddington. CIPR/Wiley. €20This is a book about the rapidly changing area of social media, written ostensibly for public relations practitioners and published by the UK’s PR industry’s professional body, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, but of interest to every manager who needs to understand trends and ideas in social media.

More than 70 per cent of internet users use social networks – social networking accounts for one in six minutes spent online. It is not the preserve of the very young: the average profile age on Twitter is 35, for example.

As the book notes, human beings are motivated to connect and share for a multitude of reasons: research, entertainment, finding information and inspiration and connecting with friends. Social networks are the vehicles, not the destinations.

They present a complex but rich landscape of business opportunities and risks. The key is to focus on the communities, whether connected through interest groups, trusted friendships or other interests. Tapping into conversations relevant to stakeholders allows businesses to build relationships, influence communications and inspire advocacy and trust.

How to Save €5,000: This Year and Every Year James O’Donovan. Oak Tree Press. €8.99

This is a highly practical personal finance self-help book. James O’Donovan writes from his experience of responding to austerity and saving the equivalent of what his family was losing in wage cuts and tax increases – in this case about €6,700.

The biggest savings he made were in his mortgage and mortgage protection policy, groceries, utilities and lunches at work.

O’Donovan details how it is possible for the average family to save at least €5,000 a year and notes the huge cumulative effect of such annual savings. There are chapters on housing costs, utilities, food, transport, banking, insurance and entertainment, among others.

While many of the ideas suggested are no more than common sense, the breadth of the areas in which money can be saved is impressive.

Several good principles drive his approach. These including shopping around and comparing prices; thinking of cumulative savings, not just once-off savings; avoiding branded goods; buying in bulk; and tracking your spending to monitor changes and trends.

A key principle is to be proactive rather than passive when it comes to spending your money.

Royal Navy Way of Leadership Andrew St George. Preface Publishing. €19.99

Andrew St George spent three years researching this book and enjoyed unhindered access to every level of the British navy from ratings to the Second Sea Lord, who commissioned the book. The aim was to yield a book that distilled the leadership culture of the organisation.

The book details six core values of leadership: commitment, courage, discipline, respect for others, integrity and loyalty. The links with other areas of leadership, such as business, are made explicit but not laboured.

Strategic leadership, St George notes, involves taking decisions about the direction of an organisation when perhaps few issues are clear. It is the leader’s role to bring clarity, convince others of his or her vision and communicate effectively with stakeholders.

The strategic leader must answer four basic questions: about the objective; the means available; whether the means enable the mission; and whether, as circumstances change, there is a better way.

The final chapter consists of quotes from Royal Navy staff on key aspects of leadership such as capacity for judgment and decision-making; communication skills; confidence; courage; and integrity.

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