Tag Archives | Crisis PR

The End of the Age of Spin

Could it be possible? Are we entering the end of the age of spin?

Spin is the bane of every PR professional. It’s what everyone outside the profession – our colleagues, competitors, friends, family, the media – believe is our job.

But what is spin? The most generous view is that it’s telling the story the way the organization wants it told. But many people see it as nothing less than lying.

I believe that excellent PR pros don’t lie, at least not intentionally. We all know that misrepresentation has harsher consequences than telling the truth – and that we’ll almost always be caught. But honesty has many faces, and the truth is rarely cut and dry. There are often several shades, and they may all be true.

It all gets more complicated when you consider that we are well into the Brand Me economy. Social media and the Web have made us all more conscious of our personal reputations. This isn’t just limited to college students worried that their job prospects will be impacted by party pictures appearing on their Facebook profile, but also CEOs. What they say in defense of their corporations actions may follow them digitally the rest of their careers.

Which is why I found Jeff Hancock’s Ted Talk to be so interesting. His premise is that the digital trail is making us all more honest. Could it be then, that we’ll see the end of the age of spin in the near future?

How to Manage Your Social Media Crisis

One of the great fears that businesses have when they contemplate jumping into social media is that negative comments will create a social media crisis.

Fortunately, most businesses will not experience a social media crisis on the scale of the Dell laptop batteries or the Domino’s debacle. However, to paraphrase Reuters, “one woman’s crisis, is another woman’s rant.” Meaning: all things are relative.

All organizations, no matter how good, face criticism from time to time. On social networks, this criticism can easily become amplified. Knowing how to handle negative comments can help prevent things from getting out of control.

The first step is understanding who the commenter is and the nature of the comment. I recently helped a client who had a negative comment about their products posted to one of their distributors’ Facebook pages. I first asked the usual PR questions: Do you know this person? How credible and influential is she in your market? Is her statement true or does it include inaccuracies?

Clarifying incorrect information is essential, but we have to remember that opinion can’t be argued. Thus, we responded with facts, but gave the poster the opportunity to voice her opinion.

In these situations, I usually refer to the Air Force Blog Assessment tool to determine how and if to respond to negative comments. Though several years old, it’s still useful and relevant today for all social media channels. David Meerman Scott originally blogged about it, as did Jeremiah Owyang, who posted it on his Flickr account.

I always provide a copy of this tool to clients as part of their social media training, and I encourage community managers to post this on the wall by their desk for easy reference.

Diane Thieke is busy dealing with a crisis of her own: There’s no cream in the frig. It’s time to visit a satellite office where coffee and all its accoutrements are readily available. Follow her on Twitter: @thiekeds.