darren copeland

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Andrew Hudson just got back from Argentina and shot this video.

Not only is this fantastic video but it reinforces that lessons can be learned everywhere, we just need look.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOS8JGQ1gFU]

 

What is the lesson?  Nothing worth learning is gained easily, Grasshopper.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Reputation should be every businesses social media focus.

It was a jaw-dropping story in the New York Times by David Segal.

SHOPPING online in late July, Clarabelle Rodriguez typed the name of her favorite eyeglass brand into Google’s search bar.

In moments, she found the perfect frames — made by a French company called Lafont — on a Web site that looked snazzy and stood at the top of the search results. Not the tippy-top, where the paid ads are found, but under those, on Google’s version of the gold-medal podium, where the most relevant and popular site is displayed.

Ms. Rodriguez placed an order for both the Lafonts and a set of doctor-prescribed Ciba Vision contact lenses on that site, DecorMyEyes.com. The total cost was $361.97.

It was the start of what Ms. Rodriguez would later describe as one of the most maddening and miserable experiences of her life.

What transpires is a nightmare scenario for any consumer, and frankly, for any business as well.  It becomes even worse when you understand why this is happening.  From the company itself.

“Hello, My name is Stanley with DecorMyEyes.com,” the post began. “I just wanted to let you guys know that the more replies you people post, the more business and the more hits and sales I get. My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement.”

It’s all part of a sales strategy, he said. Online chatter about DecorMyEyes, even furious online chatter, pushed the site higher in Google search results, which led to greater sales. He closed with a sardonic expression of gratitude: “I never had the amount of traffic I have now since my 1st complaint. I am in heaven.”

I understand that this is an extreme example, but any publicity is good publicity right?

SEO is important, but not as much as your reputation

Well no.

Look, I don’t believe that this is the kind of thing that the vast majority of businesses would want to associate themselves with, but it brings up an interesting point.

What are you more interested in as a business, your SEO or your reputation?

You may laugh at that question, but I assure you, too many of you are putting your Google rankings ahead of your businesses good name.  In fact, the only difference between your business and the one above is scale.

Want Proof?  Here are three warning signs that you may be caring more about your SEO rather than your reputation.

  • Your focus on blog posts is toward key words rather than on highlighting your expertise.
  • You post based on what’s popular rather than on where you see solutions to problems.
  • You post about topics that are irrelevant to your business’ strengths.

If you’re doing any of these, you probably want to rethink your social media strategy.  Let me help.

Simply put, most businesses are created because they are able to fill a need.  Your primary goal with social media, really with all public relations, should be to highlight why people should trust you, and ultimately, do business with you.  Everything else is superfluous.

It never ceases to amaze me how many businesses don’t seem to get that.

Here’s a simple solution.

Rather than focusing on popular issues, pick topics with an eye towards highlighting how your business can offer solutions to problems.  If you happen to be able to address a topic that others are talking about, great.  But it shouldn’t be a focus.  Once you have a topic, lay out clearly and concisely what the issue is and how your business is ideally suited to fixing that problem.  Make the case that people should turn to you when they have similar issues.  Only after you have written your post should you worry about how to increase your ranking on Google.

So remember this.  Social media is not a popularity contest.  If it were, then all of us would be acting just like the business above, stooping to any level to rise in the ranks of Google.  This is not to say that you should just ignore SEO words or popular topics, you shouldn’t.  Just understand that your focus should primarily be on what your business can do for others.

Focus on your reputation.  Your future customers will thank you.

*(If you’re interested in my services you can go here for more information.)

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Can you spot the real turkey?

Every family has one.  It was the Thanksgiving from Hell.

You remember…as much as you don’t want to, you do.

It was the year that Mom didn’t do turkey.  Instead she tried the Mongolian-Irish-Colombian-Vegan eel recipe she got from the guy handing out fliers at the mall.  The meal was so bad that Uncle Silus got drunk and yelled at Cousin Teddy, who got drunk and took the sledge hammer to Great Grannie Edie’s heirloom crystal cat collection.  By the end of the evening, the men were passed out amongst the crystal chards while Mom, in tears, chased the dogs away from the untouched dinner, not realizing that the animals were the only things that got her cooking.

Ahh the memories.  The terrible, ungodly, please-god-never-ever-let-that-happen-again memories.  I think we can all agree that we never want to go there again.

Amazingly, similar stuff happens when businesses get cute with their social media.

The boss has no clue about social media so he appoints some kid to do it for him.  The kid “totally knows this rad new platform that all the other kids are using” and ends up spending thousands on some site that can only be accessed in South Korea.  Meanwhile, the Twitter page that a former worker set up, is being used as a “why work sucks” discussion between two other employees who had access because the ex-worker sent everyone the password in a email.

Yeah…no.  We don’t want that either.

Never fear.  Here are five tips to ensure that your Thanksgiving, and your social media, will be a success

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Too often, people treat Thanksgiving as a game of “anything you can do, I can do better.”  They try to make the dish that will be the one that the family will talk about for years.  The problem is, it usually is.  No one wants vegan eels for Thanksgiving.  They want turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy.  Just because it’s not unique doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious.   And because you’re comfortable making turkey, it probably will be.

The same goes for your social media.  Here’s a secret, the reason why most businesses stick to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is because those are the sites the everyone else is using.   Social media is a tool to let people know about all the great things your business is doing.   I could have the coolest social media set up, but if no one sees it, it won’t do me any good.  Sticking to the social media sites that your familiar with, that other people are familiar with, will give you a better chance of successfully getting your message across.

DON’T PUT TOO MUCH ON YOUR PLATE

Let me tell you what "seconds" means

This is something we all do, and regret it every year.  We see all the food on the Thanksgiving table and want to eat it all.  Now!  Unfortunately, by the time we’re done piling everything on our plate we have mixed everything together into an indistinguishable brown pile of mush.  It might still taste good, but we miss the chance to taste each dish individually. We might find that some of the dishes we liked aren’t as tasty as we thought, while other that we might not have liked turn out to be our favorites.  Knowing this can be helpful when you’re going back for seconds.  Because there will always be seconds.

Too many of us seem to have the same problem when it comes to social media.  There are so many interesting social media tools that we just can’t resist using all of them.  Sadly, when it comes time to use those tools, we don’t have the time or understanding to truly take advantage of each tool’s unique strengths.  By using fewer tools and getting to know them well, you can find which ones really suit your social media needs.

REMEMBER GRANDMA’S THERE

Remember the time Crazy Uncle Silus got really drunk and started telling loud tales about his escapades in the red light district of Amsterdam, using the dog’s favorite toy to explain every graphic detail?  So does your Grandmother, which is why Unky Silly doesn’t seem to make Thanksgiving anymore.  No one wants to feel uncomfortable at Thanksgiving.  Keep it that way.

Same goes for social media.  The last thing you want is people to see your social media and feel uncomfortable.  If they do, you can bet on two things happening.  The first is that they won’t look at your social media anymore.  The second is that they will tell lots of other people who, also, won’t look at your social media anymore.

A good rule of thumb for making sure your social media is appropriate is to ask yourself if your grandmother would be o.k. reading your stuff.  If you can’t say yes, you might want to rethink what you’re writing.

You may remember Thanksgiving but your family will

SCREWS UPS WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN

I don’t mean to keep reminding you about that Thanksgiving nightmare you’ve been trying to forget, but it should serve as a reminder of why everyone should mind their manners over the holidays.  Crazy Uncle Silus wasn’t always “crazy.”  But down a whole bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream and lay waste to a family heirloom and that’s all anyone will remember.  Don’t be that person.  Don’t talk politics.  Don’t bring up embarrassing stories about yourself or anyone else.  If you do, I can assure you, you’ll be hearing about it for the rest of your life.

Screwing up on social media has the same effect.  You make one unfortunate remark in a blog post, or malign someone’s mother in a tweet and you will never be able to put it behind you.  This is particularly bad if the faux pas happens on your businesses’ social media sites.  Your business will always be associated with that mistake.  Google will make sure of that.  So make sure you proof your work, and please no drunken Twitter posts.  No one wants that.

HAVE A DESIGNATED DRIVER

It is natural at Thanksgiving for the alcohol to flow as much as the food does.  A pre-meal martini, wine with dinner, a beer watching football and pretty soon you’re feeling pretty happy.  Make sure you aren’t driving.  Getting a DUI would definitely fall under the “Screw Up” section above.  Worse would be having a crash that killed you or someone else.  Thanksgiving would never be the same.  Having a designated driver will ensure that your family remembers Thanksgivings past for the right reasons.

Having a designated driver for your social media is essential as well.  Giving multiple people access to your businesses’ social media is just asking for trouble.  The more people who have access, the better the chance of an online train wreck.  Remember the “work sucks” employees?    You just don’t want that.  Make sure you have one person who is in charge of your social media.  It will make your message clearer and there will be a significantly less chance of having any social media “mistakes.”

As you can see, there are a lot of similarities to having a successful Thanksgiving and a successful social media campaign.  If you make sure to keep it simple, don’t put too much on your plate, remember grandma, limit your screw ups and appoint a designated driver, your Thanksgiving and you social media will give you a lot to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all

*(If you’re interested in my services you can go here for more information.)

 

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Rapids win the MLS Cup

Dear Denver,

Hope you’re doing well, especially with all the Holiday preparations going on.  I needed to tell you something regarding the Colorado Rapids you may not have heard.

They won the MLS Cup.

Yes, I know.  I was shocked too.  No one saw the Rapids winning a championship before the Nuggets or the Rockies.  And with a Denver guy winning the MVP to boot.

So listen.  I got some PR advice for you.  You need to give them a parade.  Really.

I know, I know, they’re not the Broncos, or the Rockies, or the Nuggets, or the Avs, but you know, they are representing Denver.    Just because you think they might not be as important to Denver as the Broncos, it doesn’t mean that their contribution to the city is any less important.

See, that’s the problem that many businesses have.

Often, they neglect the contributions of their perceived “lesser” employees regardless of the fact that those employees worked just as hard and did just as much to reach an achievement that “important” employees did, just without as much fanfare.  And when that “lesser’ employee isn’t given the same recognition, they tend to take their talents elsewhere which causes the business to then, and only then, realize what they lost.

That business ends up having to spend a lot more to replace that “lesser’ employee than they would have to recognize them when they were successful.

Same goes for the Rapids.  They won Denver a championship!

MLS Cup MVP Conor Casey

They deserve the same celebration that the Broncos and the Avs got when they won theirs.

The Rapids deserve a parade.

I mean a real parade, with firetrucks and ticker tape.

It’s not like parades are a big deal in Denver.  Heck, you let everyone have parades.  The circus, the stock show, even the Irish.  Seriously, a four hour parade for having someone in my background who was born in Ireland is a bit much.  As my grandma McGinty once said “lo and begorrah.”

But that’s besides the point.

For very little effort, you can show, not only the Rapids, but everyone in Colorado that you appreciate it when someone representing you becomes a champion.  That little bit of goodwill will give you more positive PR than anything else you could do.

So please Denver.  Give the Rapids a parade.  Because, as every business should know, celebrating all successes does much more to help them than to just celebrate “big” successes.

Besides, everyone loves parades.

Thanks for listening,

Darren

UPDATE:  P.S.  A rally is not a parade.

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I’d like to let you in on a little secret.

The Honey Do list goes mobile

I’m just a normal person.  I need to run errands and do stuff just like everyone else in the world.  So why would any business care about my errand run?  Because it could change the way you think about social media.

Shall we start?  Good.

I Needed to get a part to fix a desk in my living room.

I Googled stores to find best deals for the part/

Checked which store was closest and  how long it would take to get to the store.

As you can see, I use social media all the time to help me find the things I need.  With social media, I can find the stuff I need at the most convenient store.  Using my smart phone makes this a lot easier.  So why should you care?  Think about this,  ” Morgan Stanley Internet analyst said she expects smartphone sales will surpass PC and laptop sales in 2012, with more than 450 million units sold.”

Wow!  That’s a lot of people with smart phones who just might be using it to search businesses through social media.  Oh well, back to my errands.

Went to hardware store, checked in on Foursquare.  Saw deal for flowers nearby.

Went to Flower shop which gave me a discount for using Foursquare to find them.

Another great thing about smart phones is that can take advantage of geolocation applications like Foursquare.  When you use a geolocation application to check in at a store, they will often have deals posted that you wouldn’t find normally.  Additionally, you can find other participating stores nearby you might want to visit.

Pretty neat!  I wish that was your flower shop, but you aren’t on Foursquare.  So anyway, that  other flower shop was so nice that….

Tweeted how nice they were and that everyone should check them out.

Got a re-tweet about a great new restaurant that serves Venezuelan food.  Texted my Venezuelan wife to have her meet me there.

She checked in on their Facebook page, found a great deal, and realized she knew the owner from her high school.

Got invited to dinner so I needed a bottle of wine.  Went to Yelp to find a wine store nearby that carried South American wine.

Went to the grocery store and had to wait at the checkout for the employee to finish her conversation with her boyfriend.  Tweeted about the terrible service.  Got a reply from someone who said another grocery store, closer to my home, had great customer service.

Social media is the perfect tool for interacting with people and getting tips about businesses from your friends.  In fact, lots of folks check reviews about businesses. If their friend like the place they go.  If not, they don’t.  Oh, you should probably think about this too.

Well it’s off to the wine store.

As I was buying the wine, I got into a conversation with owner and found out that he is a wine and restaurant blogger. Favorited his blog and got great Chilean wine for dinner.

Blogging is like word of mouth advertising on steroids.  People look to blogs for advice more so than any other medium.  That basically means that blogging about your industry can make you an expert.  People want to buy stuff from experts in their field.

So off to dinner.

Had a wonderful dinner with new friends.

Afterwards I reflected on how much had changed for me in one day just by taking advantage of social media.  I found the part I needed at the most convenient store.  I found a great new flower shop.  Replaced my grocery store.  Met some friends with an awesome restaurant and met a blogger who could point me towards a great bottle of Chilean Red.

Pretty good huh?  And I’m not unique.  Everyday there are millions of people just like me who use their smart phones and social media to help them with their errands.

Here’s the catch.

If your business isn’t taking advantage of social media, you’re not reaching any of us.  Basically you’re invisible.

Perhaps you should rethink that decision not to use social media for your business, don’t you think?

Yeah, I thought so too.

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EA Sports made an error

I’d like to share with you a public relations nightmare I’m witnessing first hand.

When I have a bit of free time, I like to play online games.  My game of choice is Tiger Woods Online by EA Sports.  I like it because I can just fire it up on my browser without having to worry about any additional hardware.   The problem is, I can’t just reset it when there’s a glitch.

Like today.

See, with online games, the developers feel that if the game isn’t constantly updated, people will get bored and they’ll lose their jobs.  For EA Sports this means an update every week or so.

Now it’s a good thought to keep the game fresh, but in reality more updates means more glitches that need fixin’.  In this case the glitch is that no one can play any of the tournaments, which is why we play in the first place.

To fully understand the issue I’ve posted a bit of the timeline for the announcement of the update.  It starts with…

11/15/2010 15:06:14            Subject:Weekly Update – 11/16/10
Excellent right?  But shortly after comes this message from a player.
11/16/2010 05:37:02          Subject:Re:Weekly Update – 11/16/10
URGENT – Since update, cannot load tournaments. Load stopping at confirming log in. Please check this out.
Now that’s a problem, but I’m sure that a huge company will be all over this issue, letting us know what’s happening. 

Ummmmm.  Let’s fast forward MORE THAN 24 HOURS LATER.

11/17/2010 06:37:12              Subject:Re:Weekly Update – 11/16/10
I cant play in Full screen now either. Longest drive missing from Friends’ contest, no EXP from making the cut, cant play tourneys, etc…. How is this an update? Maybe the reason we havent heard from EA is because they are working on a fix
Well yes, I’m sure they are working on a fix.  But I’m afraid the damage has been done. 

Why?

Simply put, a company must never, ever, neglect their customers.  This means you need to keep them updated.  Always.

I know.  I can hear it now.  “But they’re in the middle of a crisis.”

Doesn’t matter.  In fact, it is critical that you utilize your public relations during a crisis in order to keep your customers informed.

Let me explain.

What makes a crisis so bad for a company?  It’s the uncertainty.  How bad is the problem?  Is there anything that can be done?  Who’s working on this?  When will things get back to normal?  People need reassurance that a company is working to fix whatever problem they’re having or else they panic.  Or get angry.

When people don’t hear from a company like EA Sports about a problem for more than 24 hours, uncertainty creeps in and people start coming to their own conclusions about what’s happening.  And that’s always bad news for the company.

How do you stop it?  You keep people updated.  Frequently.  You let them know what the issues are.  What problems you’re having, and most importantly, what you’re doing to fix it.

You control the message.  EA Sports didn’t do this and it’s killing them.

Is EA Sports working to try and fix this?  I’m sure they are.  But how do we know?  We don’t and now people are posting things like this….

The lack of a fix in 24 hours is bad enough, but what is losing me as a supporter of EA is the total lack of response in 24 hours.  Not a word… NOTHING. As many have said before this post, this failure to communicate is totally UNACCEPTABLE. 

I don’t post here often because I’ve felt some progress has been being made but this incident shows that I’ve been a fool. What EA has failed to realize is that if you take the heroin away, a crack dealer will soon fill the void. And right now I’m Jones-in for a game and will be checking out the other new golf options. Thanks, EA, for cutting me off….

And come renewal time, my one subscription won’t make them pay attention…. but if we get 1,000 of us organized and ready to boycott come April, well I guarantee you $50,000 worth of subscriptions will make someone start paying attention….

I’m done enabling EA’s crap behavior and poor decisions..gonna see some tough love from now on until they kick their bad habits with TWO members.

The goal is 1,000. Count off.

1.

Yikes. 

If only they had kept their customers informed.  A simple lesson, so expensively learned.

So a lesson for all you businesses that may face a crisis in the future (that’s pretty much all of you).  Don’t neglect your public relations in a crisis.  Customers understand mistakes.  All they want is some reassurances that you care and that you’re trying to make things better.

If you don’t give them that, well they’ll go to someone who will.

*(If you’re interested in my services you can go here for more information.)

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Self-Inflicted mistakes hurt the worst

As a public relations person, I like to think of myself as an “image advocate.”  Essentially, that means I work to publicize anything you do well and try to minimize any bad press.  What a lot of PR and business people don’t understand, however, is that an “image advocate” also needs to protect a business from itself.  Many times this means letting a client know, in no uncertain terms, that they are responsible for their own bad press and that they need to change the way they do things on every level.

The problem is that businesses don’t seem to like getting that type of advice.  They don’t understand that public relations isn’t just about media relations.  It’s about customer relations, employee relations, and community relations.  Heck, any relations you have as a business falls under PR, and when a business is screwing it up they need to fix it.  Or face the repercussions.

Think I’m blowing smoke?  Ask Pinnacol Assurance.

You see, Pinnacol Assurance has had some public relations trouble in its past.  All of it self-inflicted.  You would have thought, after all that nonsense, that Pinnacol would have made sure to fix some things to try and stay out of the media’s cross-hairs.

You’d be wrong.  From 7News in Denver.

DENVER — The state’s largest worker’s compensation insurance company denied a Denver man’s claim, celebrating the denial in e-mails, a CALL7 Investigation found.

Workers comp provider Pinnacol Assurance lost a lawsuit by Michael Schuessler claiming the company improperly denied his claim.

Incredible.

What is most egregious is not that the workers were celebrating the denials, but that there was no one inside the company with the public relations sense to try and stop this kind of stuff in the first place.  Now, Pinnacol Assurance will be, justly, raked over the coals for the second time in roughly six months.

And it could have been prevented.

Don’t make the same error Pinnacol Assurance made.  Here are six things that a company can do to recover from a self-inflicted crisis.

APOLOGIZE AND THANK

A company that has been through a self inflicted crisis will never truly get over it.  Nor should they.  Ten years from now, Pinnacol will still be hearing from people about this mess.  They must continue to apologize to people, and thank them for remembering.  Why?  Because each time  Pinnacol’s mistakes are brought up, it creates an opportunity to explain how they have changed.  If a business has changed and has embraced their past, there is an opportunity to regain some of that lost trust.

DO A COMMUNICATIONS AUDIT

If a company like Pinnacol is so tone deaf in one area of their company, chances are they’re tone deaf in lots of areas.  You need to look at every part of your company to see what can be done better.  Not only will you see where your problems are, but you’ll quickly see your strengths as well.  Once you have that, you can understand the true scope of your problems and get to work fixing them.

TAKE A FRESH LOOK

One of the main issues all industries have is the dreaded “echo chamber.”  There are things we do that seem normal to us, but to someone from the outside it may seem offensive.  I’m quite sure that many insurance companies, who must deal with, and deny, millions of claims a year can act quite callous about it.  It’s a tool for coping.

You must bring in someone from the outside to give you a fresh look at your procedures.  They can show you areas where you need repairs that you didn’t even think of.  Plus it will give you credibility by showing that you are serious about fixing your problems.

FIX PROBLEMS

This seems silly but you’d be surprised how many businesses think that because the spotlight is no longer shining on them they can go back to business as usual.  This will only turn that one day story into a six month story (Read more about that here).  You must understand that once you are involved in a self-inflicted crisis, you are on the media’s radar.  Anything other problems will send the press back to you in a heart beat.  You don’t want that.

Any problems you find have to be fixed, and fixed properly.

KEEP EMPLOYEES INVOLVED

A key thing to understand about Pinnacol Assurance’s latest gaffe is that the employees didn’t understand they were connected to the earlier problems.  That disconnect caused the current screw-up.  When you have a crisis, you must let your employees know that they are affected, but they are also part of the solution.  When employees have ownership of a company’s solution, they will be much more likely to act proactively to fix problems they might encounter.  The more people looking for problems to fix, the better.

NEVER FORGET

If you’ve been involved in a self-inflicted crisis, you know.  The lack of sleep, the heartburn, the worry, and the shame.  No one likes to go through that.   So remember, every day, about how bad that was and you will be much more likely NOT to repeat your mistakes.

Pinnacol Assurance is going through a terrible time right now, and they have no one to blame but themselves.  They will be hurt from this.  But if they take this advice and move forward, they will survive and come out a much better company.

And that, really, is what “image advocacy” is all about.  Making companies better so that there is more good news to celebrate.

*(If you’re interested in my services you can go here for more information.)

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Mitch Reed in a happier moment

Before I was a P.R. pro for hire (go here if you’re interested), I spent a lot of years working as a reporter.  Back then, it felt like winning the lottery when a story like this one from the Aspen Daily News fell into our laps.

A local man has confessed to stealing hundreds of copies of the Aspen Daily News and The Aspen Times from newspaper boxes throughout the valley last Friday morning.

Mitch Reed, 23, said he drove around to various newspaper boxes about 7:30 a.m. Friday, removing copies of both newspapers in an attempt to spare embarrassment to a buddy who was in that day’s police blotter in both publications.

You see, anytime I could take a one day story and turn it into a two day story, well, that was just awesome.  Now I think  the opposite.  How can I keep that one day story from spilling over to tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

Well, thanks to Mr. Reed, and his honorable stupidity, anyone can learn the secret to crisis communications success. Here are four things Mr. Reed didn’t do that you should to minimize a crisis.

TAKE A BREATH AND THINK

I  know this seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how hard it is to stay rational in a crisis.  Take a minute to gather yourself and think about what the worst possible outcome could be.

Take Mitch here (may I call you Mitch?).  It’s obvious that he saw the looming problem that was his friend showing up in the Aspen Daily News police blotter, and freaked out.  If he had chilled out for a sec, he might have seen that, while showing up in the blotter is bad, there are worse places for your name to show up in a paper.  Like the front page.

Giving yourself a second to breathe and think will give you a chance to see the crisis in its proper perspective.  Mitch didn’t do this.

ASSESS YOUR OPTIONS

Once you have a grasp of the problem you face, you can now start figuring out the best ways to fix it.  Come up with as many solutions as possible and follow them to their probable conclusion.  Choose the one that gives you the best chance to minimize the damage.

Had Mitch done this, he might have seen that, yes, stealing all the newspapers in Aspen is a possible solution.  Is it the best option to try and keep a buddy’s name out of the spotlight?  I’m thinking NO.  Perhaps helping his buddy work on explaining himself and apologizing to people that actually brought it up might have been a better choice, but that’s just me.

DON’T COVER UP

There is one hard and fast rule about crisis communications that no one ever seems to learn.

Never, Never, Never try to cover up bad news.

Ask Nixon.  If a reporter thinks that you’re hiding something they are gonna investigate.  They will find the truth, do a story on the cover up then do more research into what else are you possibly hiding.  Maybe they ask ex-employees about you.  You know, the one you fired who said you’d regret it one day?

In Mitch’s case, he didn’t understand the when folks don’t get their papers, they complain to that paper.  When hundreds of people complain, they investigate.  Then they write another article talking about Mitch while mentioning his friend’s name in the blotter.  I bet more people read that blotter now.

WEATHER THE STORM

It’s never fun when bad stuff happens, but the one thing you need to remember is this.  Hit it Annie

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=83chZPsYLbo&w=200&h=100]

You will get passed this crisis.  And how you handle it will tell everyone as much about your company as any problem you might have had.

So thank you Mitch.  You’ve done all of us an invaluable service.  You have illustrated that turning a small problem into a bigger one is exactly the wrong way to deal with a crisis.

Instead, take a breath, assess your options, never cover up, and weather the storm.  You do this and that bad story they wrote about you today will be forgotten tomorrow.

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The player at the center of it all, Cam Newton

Cam Newton, for the non-sports enthusiast, is the starting quarterback for the Auburn Tigers football team.  He is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy as the best football player of the year.  He is also facing allegations that he received money to attend Auburn University, a big no-no.  If it is proved he took money, any game he plays in will have to be forfeited.

 

Wednesday, a tweet went out quoting ESPN’s Ian Fitzsimmons saying that Newton would not be playing this week against Georgia.  Here’s what happened next, from Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

There was story and multiple messages on Twitter earlier Wednesday that referenced an ESPN Dallas report that Newton was on the verge of being suspended, possibly within “three to four hours.”

So what happens?  Legal sports books in Las Vegas, unsure about the validity of the information and seeing millions of dollars suddenly being bet on the underdog Georgia, were forced to stop taking bets on the game.  Costing those sports books even more millions.

One problem though,

In fact, the ESPN reporter, Ian Fitzsimmons, says he was misquoted, that all he said was a story like this can change in three or four hours.

Oops!

Here are three lessons you must learn from “The Cam Newton Effect.”

SOCIAL MEDIA IS A POWERFUL TOOL, BUT JUST A TOOL

Social media is a powerful tool, but just a tool

 

Social media is a tool that can be used to help or hurt your company.  Using social media effectively can help you spread good news about your company very quickly.  It can also spread bad or false news about your company very quickly. There was no fact checking on the Cam Newton allegations, but that didn’t matter.  Social media doesn’t know what’s true, or what you meant to say.  You, and you alone must take responsibility for making sure the right messages get publicized with social media.

 

If you have a plan, you won't need this

YOU MUST HAVE A SOCIAL MEDIA CRISIS PLAN

 

If something comes out on social media about your company that’s incorrect, or reflects poorly on you, there will be no time to figure out how to deal with it.  You literally have minutes. You must have a plan that you can implement right away to minimize any damage.  The elapsed time from the first Twitter about Cam Newton until Las Vegas was forced to stop taking bets was about four hours.  Four hours.  You have to be prepared with a social media crisis plan.

YOU MUST BE USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO LISTEN

If you are not monitoring social media right now to find out what is being said about you and your company, you could be letting bad information fester and grow like a cancer.   You wouldn’t let false information about your company be circulated at a dinner party you were attending, why would you ignore it online?  The damage that can happen to a company in just one day from bad online information could be titanic.  The best part is it’s really not that hard to monitor.  Here’s how.

Listen up...social media's talking about you

 

Additionally, I use Yoono on my browser.  It gives me a side browser that lets me see all my social media accounts in one stream.  It’s constantly running and updating while I’m online.  A pretty handy tool if you ask me.

“The Cam Newton Effect” illustrated how powerful social media has become.  But as Spider-man’s uncle said “with great power comes great responsibility.”   I hope these tips help you to understand just how important that responsibility is to your company.

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