Some of you have come to understand the power of blogging without an impetus. And if you have, well done, I’m not talking to you. This is for ALL THOSE OTHER companies who have yet to acknowledge the community of people who connect in a way that you don’t understand or take serious because you don’t genuinely participate in it – blogging and social media.
Ahem. Allow me to point to exhibit A – the moldy tampon. Two days ago, Danielle Parr who blogs at Parr for the Course showed a picture and wrote online about one of her brand new tampons that appears to be moldy. Well, when moldy tampons happen, women talk. LOTS of women. As of last night, the original blog post had over 200 comments, and those comments were not just from individuals. Nope, no siree, those comments were also from other bloggers who have their own audiences and are plugged into social media, which makes the reach of this story HUGE! And the commenters have encouraged the woman to go to the nationa media, and she has. As of this morning, there are stories on ABC.com, the New York Daily News, the Huffington Post, MSN.com, and I am sure the coverage will continue.
As a former Public Relations person, this is a TOTAL PR NIGHTMARE for the company! What’s worse is the initial response was not awesome. So what did the blogger do? What any pissed off blogger would do! She shared the response with her (now huge) audience, compounding the problem for the company because that initial response is now part of the story.
I spent 10 years doing Public Relations for a Fortune 50 Company and then we moved for my husband’s job, and I became a blogger. So I think it is FASCINATING to watch smart companies learn to engage with an audience they know they need to understand. Its equally fascinating to watch what happens to the companies who just. don’t. get it. (I am again referring to other companies, not this particular company).
Okay, so I have your attention and you want to do something about this, but you are not sure where to start. Conjure up your company’s moldy tampon and have a crisis drill. If you aren’t sure what that should be for your company, use this as an example. Pretend you are Kotex executives and come up with a plan.
Longer term – who can help you? Probably your own people? Perhaps you have a blogger (or twelve) in the bunch. If you do, look for one who might be a good candidate to join your PR team, or at least take them out to lunch and ask them for their opinions on ways the company could better engage in social media and the blogosphere.
Why should you do this instead of training one of your existing PR folks who is not a blogger or or involved in social media? Well, you can do that and it might work out okay. But you risk creating problems or making problems that arise worse if the person doesn’t understand the etiquette involved. Do you want a mechanic to fly your plane, or a pilot?
Also, you should make sure your employees who deal directly with customer complaints understand that everything they say can and will be used against them in the court of social media.
Benchmarking with companies that already do it well is another idea. Where would you find those companies? (Hint: the blogosphere).
And, lastly, hire an expert. There are some super smart social media gurus out there who can bridge the gap for you. Find them, hire them. Where would you find them? (Hint: the Internet).
Why should you listen to me? Because I am a former PR person turned blogger, and whether your senior executives know it or not, you are just one moldy tampon away from a public relations nightmare.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…