Monthly Archives: July 2014

Is it Ethical to Buy Followers?

BizComBuzz Note to Instructors: This real-life case speaks directly to students and is a great way to get them thinking about ethical behavior early in the semester. You can link this classroom exercise to readings in Essentials of Business Communication, 9e Chapter 11 or Business Communication: Process and Product, 8e Chapter 1.


Politicians from Arizona Senate hopeful Wil Cardon to former Governor Mitt Romney to President Obama have been accused of buying Facebook likes or Twitter followers. So it wasn’t too surprising to learn that an Arizona State University student government senator had fudged her Twitter followers.

In fact, Jordan Hibbs’ impressive social media presence—she has 16,800 Twitter followers—bought her quite a bit of renown. She was invited to live tweet the State of the Union at the White House twice due to her notable social media numbers.

Except that it turns out that 14,300 of those followers were fakes.

A Twitter audit showed the accounts that followed Hibbs had fewer than ten people following them and that tweets on those accounts were posted on two days nearly two years apart. Clearly that was fishy enough. Things got worse when Hibbs was interviewed by Fox News and is quoted as saying, “I’m committed to social media, and I’m really interested in politics. It’s a great way to be involved in something that I care a lot about.” She went on to explain that the secret to having a large following is asking questions to involve people in the conversation.

But this nervy coed went even further. In several feature articles Hibbs wrote for the ASU newspaper, she talked about her desire to increase “accountability” and “transparency” among campus politicians.

Your Task: Ethics are moral codes that often hold us to a higher standard than the law, guide our behavior, and help us separate right from wrong. Using the following questions, discuss with your team how the above scenario violates principles of ethical conduct or write a memo to your instructor.

1. Was the use of buying Twitter followers legal?

2. Would you do it if you were in the same situation?

3. Can you rule out a better alternative?

4. Would a trusted advisor agree with the action?

5. Would family, friends, employer, or coworkers approve?


Should You Send Anyone a LinkedIn Request to Connect?

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If you’re unsure about the etiquette of sending LinkedIn requests to connect, you’re not alone. It’s confusing at best.

From recipients’ standpoint, opening up their networks to complete strangers doesn’t make sense. LinkedIn recommends users only accept invitations from people they know and trust.

But many users say LinkedIn’s recommendation to ignore requests from people you don’t know defeats the purpose of social networking—to meet people virtually. After all, they point out, if you attended a live networking event, you’d be there specifically to connect with people you didn’t know. So what’s a professional social networker to do?

According to LinkedIn, your goal should be to gather connections that reflect your personal work rather than simply to amass a large number of contacts. Some liken sending out a LinkedIn request to connect to a stranger similar to randomly passing out business cards. LinkedIn instead suggest beginning a relationship by first reaching out via e-mail using the site’s “InMail” messages.

Alexandra Samuel, author of Work Smarter, Rule your Email, says the litmus test for accepting a new invitation to connect is whether or not you’d want to do that person a favor. If so, accept. If not…don’t.


Instructors: What do you think about sending out cold LinkedIn requests to connect? Does it work or backfire? Share your LinkedIn insights by posting a comment!

If you want to discuss this topic in your classrooms, here are a few questions you might pose to your students.

1. What can you do now to begin or expand your LinkedIn presence?

2. What could be advantages and disadvantages of introducing a headshot into the job search—usually a no-no in job applications?

3. Which writing strategy should you use to compose an introductory e-mail to a person with whom you want to connect on LinkedIn?


Source: McGregor, J. (2014, March 4). To accept or not accept that LinkedIn request. Retrieved from






Free BusCom Syllabus and Course Design!

Posted by Janet Mizrahi

The first time I taught Business Writing, I was lucky that my colleagues happily shared their course materials. However, for others who are teaching the course for the first time or who are receiving their class assignment at the last minute, a pre-built course with a syllabus can be a lifesaver.


Building your course depends on many factors: level of student competency, length of term, and departmental or course requirements among them. Some instructors may have a great deal of freedom in how they design their courses whereas others may have strict guidelines and course objectives to follow. We’ve put together several sample syllabi and a detailed pre-built course for you that are summarized below.

Sample Syllabus 1: 15-Week Community College Course
For a class that meets twice a week for 1.25 hours, this syllabus is an excellent example of a systematic approach to an introductory business communication course. Assignments include employment correspondence, communication for internal and external audiences, collaboration, and a long report.

Sample Syllabus 2: 15-Week State University Course
This upper-division Business Writing course—as taught in the Business Communication Program at Cal State Fullerton—covers the strategies and techniques to prepare typical business correspondence, reports, and presentations. Assignments include e-mails, letters, memos, employment communication, and a collaborative project.

Sample Syllabus 3: 10-Week University Course
Another upper-division example, this syllabus centers on short assignments that support a major collaborative project. Short assignments include e-mail, memo, progress report, annotated bibliography, employment correspondence, and a major collaborative project presented in bound hard copy and orally.

Pre-built Course
This helpful guide provides all tools necessary for building a course. It includes:

  • Course schedule
  • Syllabus
  • Assignments
  • First-day plan
  • Grade record sheet
  • Testing
  • Grammar and mechanics review
  • Teaching tips
  • Variations in course organization

To receive one of the samples as an MS Word file, just email Dana Loewy at dloewy[at] and she’ll happily forward it to you. Of course, if you have a syllabus or course design you’d like to share, we would love to hear from you!