One of the most poignant and powerful comments I’ve received since doing this blog landed today. It is from Mary Ann who was a passenger on the Greek cruise ship Sea Diamond. Her comment.
The anger against the companies involved is growing–the only recourse seems the court. Their offers and communications indicated–according to my commenters anyway–that they are far more concerned about protecting themselves financially in court than protecting their reputation. They probably don’t give a darn and maybe are planning for bankruptcy anyway. But this stuff hurts the whole industry as I indicated before.
The most relevant point for crisis communicators is that this story lives on. Months after the event, here I am blogging about it. People like Mary Ann are using these opportunities to tell their story. Sure, the media is off onto other stories, but their role these days is more to get the conversation started and then move on. It is the conversation that ought to concern companies like Louis Cruise Lines. The online record is created and is built, and there is no involvement in the conversation.
That’s why I was so impressed with Dell the other day. I blogged about their Dell Hell problems and immediately got a comment back from a Dell representative that explained how they are dealing with it. Dell gets it. Louis does not.
Well, I have to say I am impressed. This morning I asked the question of crisisblogger readers what you would say to Dell about how to overcome the media’s fascination with calling every problem that Dell faces Dell Hell. A couple of interesting responses, including one directly from Dell talking about how they are dealing with it.
Some companies get it. The conversation online goes on, and when they are involved they participate. Thank you, Dell. Very impressed.
I just read an excellent white paper from Market Sentinel on the influence of blogging on corporate reputations. This company is located in the UK and provides web monitoring and blog tracking services. I found out about it (like so many other interesting items relevant to crisis communications) by getting Jonathan Bernstein’s Crisis Manager email newsletter.
The point that jumped out at me from the Market Sentinel white paper which focused on the Dell Hell blogwar, was how much was fed by one person. A blogger by the name of Jeff Jarvis got upset about his laptop and the service and, being one of the angry bloggers, went to town.
Those of us involved in these kinds of blogwars talk about the 57 million citizen journalists, and the numbers are impressive and scary to those concerned about reputation protection. But it only takes one to light a fire. Interesting and worthwhile read.
Attn Corporate Bloggers. Here’s a good example of what not to do. Apparently Dell’s PR firm assigned one of their staffers to review blogs for negative comments about Dell. OK, standard procedure. But the guy commented on a well known blog in terms that, well don’t even meet the “angry blogger” standard of decency. Let alone, appropriate in defending his client.
Here’s what the anonymous “PR” guy wrote on Jeff Jarvis’ blog:
Hey Jarvis. I honestly think you have no life. Honestly? Do you have a life, or do just spend it trying to make Dell miserable. I’ve been working with Dell the past three weeks researching trashy blogs that worms like you leave all over that frigen blogosphere and I cant honestly say that Dell is trying to take a step towards fixing their customer service. They hire guys like me to go on the web and look through the blogs of guys like you in hopes that we can find out your problem and fix it. But honestly I dont think you have a problem Dell can fix. Your problem is you have no life.
Interesting that Richard Edelman, head of the largest independent PR firm and a competitor of the firm in question decided to raise this issue on his blog. Well, I guess it is OK for a competitor to help point out a serious mistake on the part of a competitor. At least Edelman was gracious enough to point out that the culprit was likely a summer intern.
The point here is that there is no such thing as anonymity on the web–and the sooner anonymity as a presumed option goes away the better as far as I am concerned. So warn everyone who presumes to be speaking in your defense to not be so stupid. And to conduct themselves as they would as if everything was in the light of day. As it should be. And as apparently it is.
Dell is taking an interesting team approach to corporate blogging (read article).
In addition to having several employees comment on a corporate blog site I find this article interesting in how it brings in a story about a Dell laptop blowing up in Japan. If this was just a way for a reporter to turn a positive blog announcement story into bringing in a very negative incident and using the blog as the flimsiest of pretenses, I would be pretty upset if I was in the communications department at Dell. On the other hand, if it was part of the press release (which I doubt) as a way of telling an ugly story and putting it in the context of a more positive announcement, it’s a pretty bizarre example of a not uncommon strategy.
Any way, you get two unrelated stories here for the price of one.