Negative comments Brings Bad PR and ImageBlogging. There are many advantages from blogging for people, organizations, politicians, and of course businesses. Just reading a blog is beneficial. We are all critics now. The blogosphere is at sea level. No credentials or certifications here. Granted, your average Joe neighbor blogging has its advantages and disadvantages too. However, the importance behind blogging is that every voice is heard. From the CEOs of the powerful Fortune 500 companies to the stay-at-home mom (or dad) talking about issues that others want to hear.

Strategic research analysts worship this feedback. Each forum is a focus group. Each Facebook Fan Page is a corporate message board. Every sentence typed can be represented in dollar signs. It’s raw and uncensored information for people and businesses, but only if they want to listen (See my post Gut Feelings Vs. Wikinomics Mashup: The New Traditional ways of Business on how companies can harness these Intellectual Properties for a competitive edge).

But it’s even more beneficial when we participate in the conversation.   For example, let’s take a look at my mother’s recent PR fiasco. But before we do I need to fill you  in on some background information.

My mother and step dad, Dan decided to restore Santillane, an old Greek revival historic house. With plans in turning it into a special events venue and a bed and breakfast, we had a lot of work to do.

After five years, the restoration was complete. The project was a bear to say the least.

Since then, my mother runs a successful business, booking almost every weekend with an event. Before the Santillane business, my mother worked for the local public school system in Roanoke, Virginia as Director of Public Relations and Community Relations.  Jumping back into PR work for her new business different. Retirement must have stunted her growth with new technology, the new relationship, and social media basics.

Sorry mom if your reading, but you know it’s true.

Old ways of communications were gone but thank goodness that she had a son majoring corporate communications (I think that is what she would say). With a new website, Facebook Fan Page, and becoming a part of B&B networks, I thought I set her pretty well…until I GOOGLED her business.

There it was, a negative comment and review of her business. Not too high in the PageRank search results but still on the first page:

Rotten Google Juice

OH shoot. I immediately called my mom and email her the link. I checked the Santillane Fan Page to find another bad review. Is it the same person, I don’t know? But what I do know is what Jeff Jarvis said…

Your customers are your ad agency.

This might be one occurrence or maybe the overall attitude of Santillane. Let’s not take any risks because if one customer took their time to write an review Santillane in a bad light, then think of all the others that didn’t want to waste their time that might feel the same way.  On the flip side, think about the satisfied customers that probably didn’t write a review with the  “ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. Either way, let’s start listening to become a better business.  Here are three things I try to keep in mind when dealing with negative comments:

  1. Knowing your mistakes and flaws will make our company stronger, only if you act upon them. Let your public know you are working hard to improve troubling areas.
  2. Not responding can possibly lead to more irritation to your publics. Each situation is unique.
  3. Remember, a negative comment is still feedback so don’t get caught up in the moment and respond irrationally. Kill them with kindness; catch more bees with honey than vinegar (but not over the top).

Solving Santillane’s Image and Reputation Problem

  • Let your customers do the talking. Direct past and future customers to review sites to rate your venue and services. Astroturfing isn’t the way to fix a bad online reputation.
  • Create a survey after an event has past.  Attached PDF with radio button forms are great way to get feedback and are user-friendly.
  • Show them change. It’s one thing to listen but it’s another to act AND don’t  just talk about changing. Show them change because that’s ultimately what they want to see.
  • Monitor your connecting networks with a better eye. Google your self as if you were searching for your business. What’s being said and are you a part of the conversation?
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Recently, we have discussed the shift to secrecy to radical transparency. I usually think of large corporations and brands to be transparent and authentic, but what about the government. Government can be transparent and authentic?  Government has also made the transition to new social media communication. During the presidential election of 2004, Howard Dean did one right thing before his infamous “Whoo!” that destroyed his campaign. Dean was one of the first to use social media tools in the political arena to communicate to the American people. This opened a huge advantage on the blogosphere by communicating his ideas to the masses. Social media plays an important part in the realm of politics, more than we think. Below is a video that explains the how new social media has impacted politics.

 

 

Today, the use of social media outlets has become normal in politics, especially elections. President Obama has mastered the art of communicating through social media tools like Facebook, Tweeter, and his campaign blog. I mean President Obama does have the most popular Facebook profile with 5,998,801 supporters. He just might have this “social media thing” down. President Obama has brought Web 2.0 into the White House. With the nickname White House 2.0, transparency and authenticity have become key concepts to the new administration. Ellen Miller, executive director of Sunlight Foundation, discusses how government should be open and governments’ responsibility. Below are some of her suggestions about government use of social media.

 

 

This idea of a transparent and authentic government relates back to the core beliefs of the social contract, where the government and citizens have a mutual relationship to inform and education the people on issues of politics. It’s our civic duty to stay educated on political issues but government has to supply the venue to enlighten the people.