Do you really understand the consequences and power of Online Reputation Management? Do you get how social media silos and scuttlebutt are the fuel that can feed global online news attention and damaging search engine finds? Ahead of a four-session seminar series for IABC International, PR analyst and author of the book ‘Public Relations Disasters’ Gerry McCusker shares his thoughts in a year of celebrity social media stuff-ups and suggests a new engagement ethos for ORM.
The power – and pain – of agenda-driven social media lobbying has curdled (pun 1) the relationship between the Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company and some of its online detractors, specifically Restore Australia. Anti-Islamisation activists have targeted and bombarded the South Australian Fleurieu dairy company in many prominent social media channels; channels that offer unexpurgated commentary and unedited critiques often prove fertile breeding grounds for a culture (pun 2) of brand-bashing and, oftentimes, personally-biased and uninformed venting.
In posting this, my aim is not to defend nor attack either interest in this incident but simply to illustrate a modern PR disaster dynamic; that what starts small online, can snowball into a capital city news report and eventually move onto our national TV news screens. Social media is all about reputation, as well as stakeholder engagement and influence. Hat-tip (pun 3) to Zazzle for the image.
Sometimes, reputational ineptitude scales the heights of unawareness and at other times it plumbs the depths of idiocy. When Bill Cosby’s online PR team invited audiences to meme pictures of cuddly old Bill, had they never heard of this year’s recent #myNYPD social media snafu?
Yet another reason why social media reputation isn’t a game for kids, or for old blokes with allegedly chequered pasts.
First up, I have empathy for those with depression or self-medication issues. But in terms of PR, media reports and reputation management, there’s often not much room for such understanding. That’s why Paul Gallen’s tweet – offensively deriding his defacto NRL employers/governors as female genitalia – is defined as a PR gaffe, any pre-existing issues or circumstances aside.
For a privileged sports role model (with some bad PR ‘form’ re performance supplement use in particular) to fail to accept accountability for the consequences of his wrongs (harder – yet more telling – than just issuing an easy, media mea culpa) puts the gall in ‘Gallen’. Paul may now claim his use of the C-word (below) is innocuous. (Ladies, mums, sisters, daughters; your views on that one?)
This PR disaster is only compounded when the NRL stipulates that this great athlete – yet PR putz – needs to complete a leadership course as part of his rehabilitation. A followership, humility and emotional awareness course might better address some of the issues fuelling Paul’s PR disaster, and fuelling the original drivers that led to it.
Still with empathy and chapeau to SydMornHerald for quip-grabs, G.
I haven’t posted on PR Disasters for a while; the usual cavalcade of drunken debauchery, emotional immaturity, ill-judged utterances, policy backflips and PR nightmares leave me with a grey ennui. BUT THEN…a story pops up that’s kinda one out of the box. It appears that a Swiss retailer is doing a PR retreat after stocking coffee creamers featuring the faces of famous facists – the rest is, as they say, history…
Our PR experience suggests you can pretty much coach and train an intelligent person in media performance skills in around three or four sessions.
However, you cannot instill – far less embed – impeachable character and interpersonal maturity in an “unreconstructed personality”, without also addressing the candidate’s emotional intelligence and self-awareness. And that calls for a much deeper investment of effort.