Yep, I’m writing you a letter just like I did REI when they screwed up. Some of you are already doing it. You’re ignoring the new media “opportunities.” And you’re getting sliced and diced out there. Politicians are too.
I know, things move soooo fast here. It seems like you can’t keep up. Well, you can’t. But you have to know what’s going on. You have to do something quickly. You cannot ignore this new media stuff and expect to survive it. There are three basic rules:
First, you have to make sure you know what’s going on in the innertubular lands. You ought to have people who do nothing but check out Twitter and YouTube and The Consumerist and Facebook for you. Yes, I’m saying you need to pay people to do this for you. And these people need to have their speed dials set to your best and brightest communications people. Yep, you’re going to be paying someone to surf the Internet. Get used to it. Plus, they need to use and understand these media places. That’s important.
Second, you need to chill out a little. Don’t blow up as soon as someone posts something hateful about your company. Stop and think. People do get carried away because the web can be pretty anonymous. People can fill in their email address as joe@Ihatebobscompanybecauseitsucks.com but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a real email address or a web site. The web goes from asleep to hysterical in a nanosecond. Remember, stop and think.
Third, be a player in your own Internet life. You (or your best and brightest communications people) have to be involved and you have to be honest. You have to be willing to say “we screwed up for you and I apologize.” Use the medium by responding in the same place where you got slammed. Do not try to bull your way out.
Jim is right on target here. If you aren’t managing your online persona, you can bet someone will be and it may not jive with your mission or your message. Shouldn’t these companies and political entities be controlling their own message?
Instead of cleaning up messes, engage on the front end. People are much more forgiving when there is a conversation.
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