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internet

When a bad day at the office turns into bad PR

Next time punch a cashion

I have just seen a most fabulous example of bad PR on a website. It’s so bad I thought I’d share it with you as it illustrates how important it is for a company to regularly check their internet profile. I’m talking about more than just indiscrete photos on Facebook here.

I was browsing this morning on the Birds on the Blog site, checking how my latest gardening post was going when I stumbled across this. An internet Bingo company had approached Sarah the site owner and suggested that they would be a good match for advertising. Now, anyone who has ever looked at this blog would know immediately that a site aimed at ‘business women of opinion’ is unlikely to have that many bingo fans. Sarah politely declined the offer and was sent the following email in return.

“We are of the opinion that women thick enough to read your mundane blog posts would surely love bingo. Your dimwit readership and our exciting bingo games would be a perfect match. Would you reconsider?”

Bitchy or what? The company is called Overture Interactive and their saleswoman, Ewelina, has done them no favours. She’s insulted not only the site but her own product users too.

As we go through our working and personal lives we all get frustrated when things don’t go our way. It’s often tempting, and sometimes happens, that a jokey reply is drafted as a response. But only an idiot would send it.

I would imagine Ewelina’s job is one where she experiences frequent declines for her advertising packages as it’s a similar approach to cold calling – it just happens to be on the internet.

And that’s the issue. While her response to being turned down might have made her feel better when she sent it, how’s she going to react when her boss realises that her comments have gone global? Things have changed in the way companies now operate and how they attempt to reach their clients. Small mistakes can’t be hidden as easily in-house as once an errant slip up in the marketing department might have been.

If she thought yesterday was a bad day at the office, I’ve a feeling that today will be a whole lot worse.

Internet marketing does work – for good or bad. Just make sure that you leave the correct impression.

 

We’d love to know of any other really bad examples of internet marketing as they always make for interesting reading. If you have any send them into us and we’ll highlight them.

Ever made a mistake? Review it!

Make sure that mistake doesn't bite!

What’s the worst mistake you’ve ever made? I’d love to know — and what did you do about it?

I recently read in my local newspaper a letter from a new restaurant owner in Swindon about a review written by a journalist. She’s attended his/her restaurant and had a meal.

The letter said that while there were many positive comments, the reviewer was unreasonable in her criticisms. One was that she’d asked for a vodka mixer and no vodka was available – however the journalist should have been satisfied with the 32 types of wine on offer on the extensive wine list.

What? A journalist doing a review is no different to any other customer – and customers can be hard to please. If I want a gin and tonic or a beer – sod the 32 choices of wine – that’s what I want.

The clue is in the world ‘review’ – it’s an experience, it’s about fulfilling expectations. Some may be fulfilled, others may not.

If this happens to you, bleating about it in the letters page and slagging off the journalist is hardly maintaining a strong relationship with your local press – something you need if you are a local restaurant. Also what do you think as a reader? A reader like me? Well, do I want to go to a restaurant where my choice of  beverage is ridiculed? I don’t think so…

So, what should that restauranteur have done?

Taken the positives, learned, maybe invited her back again in six months time…keep the lines of communication open. Turn something negative into something positive – a cliche but true.

 

A review is very powerful and, unless there’s a bug in your food or the chicken is raw, will almost always put bums on seats. Don’t diss it.

 

This is not a journalist’s mistake, it’s an opinion based on experience.

 

So what is a mistake?

 

Consider the following:

Any journalist who claims never to have made a mistake is from another planet.

All human beings make mistakes and if you are banging out 3,000 words a day for a publication – it will happen.

 

However if a journalist makes a mistake the consequences can be huge – the power of the written or spoken word cannot be underestimated.

So if you are talking to a journalist and a mistake is subsequently made what do you do?

 

It’s easy – talk to the journalist about it.

 

Be sure before you do, that the mistake came from them. (Remember that a mistake in a headline or sub-heading might be done by an editor – and the journalist may have not seen it yet. Equally a mistake in a picture caption can also be done by a third party) But the journalist can help put things right.

There’s nothing more embarrassing than having a difficult conversation with a journalist and then finding out that your press release was inaccurate – or your press office/pr consultant was the source of the mistake.

Also remember that journalists are taught that ‘inaccuracy kills’ – there’s no defence if an inaccuracy leads to defamation. So journalists should be open to those kinds of conversations.

Discuss what the mistake was and how you wish it to be rectified.

For example, a simple mistake like a name spelled incorrectly may be embarrassing but it’s not going to be the end of the world. A small correction or repeat of the story (if it’s short) may be sufficient.

A good friend of mine who’s first name is Spencer was captioned in a photograph as Stella – he’s never forgotten it and neither have I – it’s hilarious.

But if a teacher say, at a school, is charged with abusing a pupil and a journalist names the school or the wrong teacher then that’s a serious mistake and much harder to put right. That gets into the realm of defamation and possibly contempt of court.

For something serious such as the latter, seek advice before talking to the journalist so that you know where you can go with it.

However it’s always advisable to give a newspaper, tv, radio or online publication the opportunity to put things right before getting heavy with lawyers’ letters.

Apologies will be given quite prominently in a serious matter, it’s actually quite rare that a media outlet does nothing when a genuine mistake has been made.

 

Tip: always talk to the journalist if she/he has made a mistake. Keep the relationship going by avoiding getting heavy. Expect a rational response in putting right that wrong.

(next week, I’ll tell you about a mistake I made and the consequences)

Should we put sports’ day photos on social media sites?

Today was sports day at my children’s school. It was a fun day and they did really well. I took some great pics and was all ready to publish them in action on Facebook – didn’t really think about it being a problem.

school racing track (grass)

can we put sports' day photos on the internet? should we?

 

Then a text arrived which stated that no photos could be put on to the internet at all.


This immediately raised my heckles. How dare anyone tell me not to publish photographs that I had taken of my children with my camera! Angry I fumed on Facebook.

I checked up with the Information Commission’s website which suggests that some schools do go too far – saying parents cannot video or photograph children taking part in school events and that’s not in the spirit of Data Protection.

 

Schools, it said,  should not hide behind this as it does not cover photography for private use.

 

But what is private use? As far as I can see it doesn’t say ‘don’t put these photographs on the internet’ – though education guidance does say that.

 

Schools get very upset with mums like me. I do question things which seem to invade my freedom. Just because a headteacher says it is so – is it? just because a lawyer says it is so – is it? Why should we just say ‘yes miss, no miss’ when we’re adults?

 

I’ve filmed a lot in schools and the permission process is extremely rigorous – rightly so. I’ve often had to film around one or two children whose images cannot be shown and that’s fine. Some children need to be protected for clear, identifiable reasons.

 

 

I took the opportunity to talk to some other mums. One, a teacher, said she was happy and gave the impression that I was being like a stubborn child not to bow to this edict about personal sports day photos.

‘We are lucky,’ she said ‘that the school allows us to take pictures’.

Are we?

Another mum said she could see both sides – there are several children in the school who cannot be filmed/photographed for their own protection. This I do get.

Using a photograph of your child, with someone who needs to be protected in the background, and should not be shown – well, I can see the logic in that.

However if I can crop the pictures and just show my children I can see nothing wrong with that decision as a parent, if I wish to publish. Of course, I do ask my children’s permission as they are old enough to be consulted about such things.

 

Of course all of this caution is often about protecting children from child sex offenders – who find the internet a fantastic place to hunt and hide in secret.

 


But does that mean that we have to abandon common sense and never put any photographs of our children on the net? Are we allowing these individuals (and there are more than most people think) to rule our freedom online? Should we?

My gut feeling is no. Why should we? Provided we do not reveal too much personal information, should we be that paranoid? Isn’t that giving these people more power?

 

And then a friend sent me a personal message. This friend reminded me that a former colleague is currently awaiting trial on various charges of child abuse including rape – someone that we were both connected to on the internet.

 

It brought me up short. This friend had had more contact with this man – but even the thought that someone could be looking at my children from afar and thinking vile thoughts was awful.

 

I‘d allowed this individual to enter my internet world – this was someone I’d known in ‘real’ life and hadn’t thought twice about connecting with.


I cannot pass comment on this individual as he’s innocent until proved guilty. However this friend has now removed all photographs of her children from the internet as she’s so shocked at this turn of events.

 

What have I concluded? Truth, I still feel uncomfortable about being told what to do with my own photographs.

 

I’m happy to not show others when I don’t have their permission to publish but I don’t want my natural actions restricted by the phantoms of gross human beings who want to prey on children for sexual gratification.

 

I do feel that there will come a time when social media sites will have to be both public and personal – it will be interesting

to see how these definitions evolve over time.

 

What do you think?

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