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PR Advice,Rare Rant,Wine

Thanks to social media, I’ve just had the most disturbing PR experience ever

It’s just amazing.

I recently had a couple of people create #badPR on Twitter, because one of them felt slighted at not being invited to something that I had organized.

Jose discovered what was being written on Twitter after the event and said to me, “You need to know what’s going on on Twitter.”

I was disappointed to see that two people had begun a #badPR conversation, when I knew that this person should have been there. I honestly thought that this person had just chosen not to come.

I was able to slow it down by jumping in and saying (truthfully), “Your publication was invited. Sorry didn’t filter down. Thanks for sharing.” I then followed it with, “I’ll be putting U into that database personally, so doesn’t happen again. You were greatly missed. Next year we’ll see U there.”

That should have quelled the waters, I thought we were all set. But the next day, obviously still stewing in the feelings of injustice, the person then wrote to my client:

Why wasn’t I invited to this? I am the person who writes most about … and am working on a new book … right now.

I feel very insulted that I wasn’t invited, when bloggers were.

My client forwarded the email to me, and I gave him the earlier communications. I hadn’t had time to explain what had happened the day before; so I did and he completely understood that the effort had been made, and it was out of our control.

Meanwhile, I continued to make nice with the person, because there’s merit in this writer attending any event I put on.

Time lapse…

Now, I’m in the middle of another event. Jose was formatting my Email invite that was going to go out via Vertical Response.

We use Vertical Response because my list is so long, and if anyone doesn’t want to get E-Mails from me, that person can just unsubscribe. Honestly, I don’t unsubscribe to anything that is coming from a wine marketing agency, because it might just have something of value for me. You just never know, so I’ve not unsubscribed to anything, yet. Once a credible person gets through Spam Arrest – I have a spam filter – it gets into my inbox. If it’s constant info that I can’t use, I have it dumped into my Junk Email folder, which I still review once a day. Nothing is deleted by me, until I know what it is, regardless.

So, Jose came running into my office, noticeably agitated (and it takes a lot to upset Jose), and told me that I had to look at who has Unsubscribed to my E-Mails. I was in the middle of finishing something, and just couldn’t deal with it. I said, “Can you just send me the list?”

He did. I finished my work, and then opened the file.

OMG… What a shock… Not only had this person above, so quick to start #badPR on Twitter and then send an Email to my client about how bad my PR is, unsubscribed to one Email account for getting my invites and announcements, but the second E-mail account owned by this person had also been blocked.

  • How in the heck can someone expect to get invites if that person unsubscribes to getting them, is my first question?
  • My second question is, “Why would you start something like #badPR, before you begin your investigations, much less your accusations?

Here are two important pieces of free PR advice to anyone so quick to try to ruin someone’s reputation via social media outlets…

  1. Before you go trying to ruin someone’s reputation, do your homework. If you’re a journalist, please remember your roots… investigate before you begin to obliterate someone else’s hard earned reputation.
  2. An apology, once you’ve realize the mistake (or been caught at it), makes you not only look like a better person, but helps you really be a better person. (The person on the other end will, in all probability, forgive you… because human beings are forgiving by nature.)

Now… I’ll get on with my work and my life. Thankfully, most people know that I operate from a place of sincere professionalism, and not #badPR.

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12 Responses to “Thanks to social media, I’ve just had the most disturbing PR experience ever”

  1. Alyssa S says:

    This is pretty interesting to me since I am studying PR and advertising right now. I completely agree with you and feel you took the best steps! It was clearly a misunderstanding. His/her loss though!

    Alyssa
    coolproducts.com

  2. Sondra says:

    Thanks Jo for this look at the reality of instant communications. You were found guilty by the bad twitter guy when in fact, he was guilty of not knowing an invitation was there for him. Interesting story that someone like bad twitter guy can so easily blame someone else for a mistake that wasn’t even theirs.

    Just imagine had Jose not been on top of twitter how much vitriol the guy could spew – he may anyway because sounds like its his nature – make someone wrong before you find out the facts. Indeed shocking behavior.

    All the more reason for any of us who communicate in this public media that we are responsible for what we say, know the facts, that we don’t jump to judgement and take everything personally. Guess this is just as important in our personal lives.

    Thanks for the wake up call to pay attention.

  3. PaulG says:

    This whole story speaks to the clique-ish, grade school aspect of social media. The power without responsibility or accountability that is seemingly bestowed by anonymity and/or ethics. It’s the wild west all over again, with media as the bountiful territory being forcibly stolen from its rightful inhabitants. That would be us – ye olde printe journalists – who actually have tended that garden generally well for centuries (Rupert Murdoch notwithstanding). But this too shall pass, and sooner or later the miscreants and troublemakers will be found out and banished to some sort of wasteland. Sorry for your trouble, though. If anyone embodies the best of PR, it’s you.

  4. Jo Diaz says:

    Paul, you’ve said it all really well…

    Sophomoric is dead on…

    And, thank you so much for your last line about the best of PR. It’s greatly appreciated.

  5. Jo Diaz says:

    Sondra,

    Yes, if Jose hadn’t been on top of it, God only knows where it would have gone.

    I actually let the person know that it wasn’t my fault… that this person had unsubscribed… Not a peep, not a – “Gee, was I off base,” or – “Hey, my bad.”

  6. Jo,

    Your are one of the most honest and flexible people I know. Wish I had seen the interchange, I would have jumped into the fray.

    Social Media interchange has wonderful aspects but the immediacy and flying fingers can be real issues.

    You and I talk fast but know to be careful when you’re putting anything into written format.

    Good lesson on the unsubscribe button. I’ve had very loud phone calls voicing similar complaints from wineries who don’t know about our Shootouts. From now on, I’ll check the unsubscribe button before I bow and scrape.

    Those of us who know you, can attest that you would never intentionally snub anyone.

    Barb

  7. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks, Barbara.

    The greatest part of keeping my nose to the grindstone is how many people are coming out of the woodwork on both Facebook and my blog to defend me. Didn’t know I had so much support, and that’s so sweet.

  8. Ed Thralls says:

    Jo,

    That is indeed an unfortunate situation and the technology allows things like this to happen almost instantly these days. It is very important to monitor your brand across the spectrum to be in the best position to handle such a situation and you certainly did the right thing in your response once your learned about it from Jose.

    However, I can’t agree with Paul about social media being the cause. The basis of social media is and always has been about building trusting relationships, reciprocation, sharing valuable information, community feedback, anti-spam, etc… and relies on the “community” dynamic to help hold others accountable. He is right, though, that violators will indeed be banished and much faster than it took for News of the World to be squashed 😉

    The writer in question only puts him/herself at risk by behaving the way he/she on such a public forum with these values at its foundation. Ethics, accountability and responsibility are something that people must take ownership of, not the technology. This is same as in print media. It’s like saying guns kill people, when in reality people kill people choosing to use a gun as the method.

    Cheers!

    Ed

  9. Jo Diaz says:

    Ed, I agree with what you’re saying. And, Web 2.0 has just given people the platform from which to spring.

    I believe that Paul’s comments are so much blaming the platform, just the sophomoric use of it by certain personality types. For that, I believe he’s also correct. What he’s calling the clique-ish, grade school aspect of social media does also exist, or this would never have happened. Two people were having a great giggle at my reputation’s expense.

    And, yes, nature will take its course. There are hard lessons in life, this could be one for someone. That person will then be more careful.

    Heck, I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life; we all do. What we do *after* the mistake is what defines our true character.

    Thanks for weighing in.

  10. Paul Manchester says:

    Jo-

    I think that this is an example of the effect that social media has on a society where people are increasingly surviving on shorter attention spans, increasing isolation and super ego.

    When people actually had to intereact with other people, face-to-face, this process was slower and there was time to deal with it before things got out of hand. these days, someone get a booboo on their ego and with a few swipes at a keyboard, they can announce their feelings to the world. all it takes is a strike on the send key and there’s no taking it back.

    Those of us who know you, know that you are pretty meticulous and always straightforward. You’d never let this situation occur intentiionally. This writer, whomever they may be, seems like someone who takes their press clippings a little too seriously and feel that their keyboard is a sword. Not much you can do about this one, unless they read the blog and realize the error of their ways.

  11. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks, Paul, for your dead-on comments. Hopefully, if this person actually does read this blog posting, the writer will realize that it all occurred because of actions begun on that end, not mine. I remember making a really dumb mistake years ago, and was taken to task because of it. I deserved it, and have never made that one again. We all make mistakes…

  12. Jo Diaz says:

    Alyssa,

    I just found your comments in my spam filter. (Sorry for the delay in getting this published.)

    It was a misunderstanding on the writer’s end. Hopefully, this won’t happen again on that end. As a writer, if one blocks incoming, that person is blocking opportunities… so don’t jump to any conclusions about exclusions.. That’s the crux…

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