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It’s been an interesting week around the web with lessons about good and not-so-good communications.  Gini mentions the blog post she wrote about the Susan G. Komen Foundation and how its decision to unplug their funding from Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screenings created a huge outpouring of support for Planned Parenthood and a reputation issue for Komen.

She talks about how poorly Komen handled communications around the issue including deleting comments from its Facebook page. She and a few people tried a test where they posted comments – from benign to negative – and took screen captures of their posts.  The organization removed them all. She wonders why Komen didn’t consult with its communications advisors in advance to develop scenarios, messages and a crisis plan.

By now most of us have heard that based on the outcry, Komen reversed its decision.

We all agree deleting comments after the fact is one of the worst things organizations can do and they should decide at the outset whether or not they’ll accept comments and build trust via an open conversation.

Joe talks about Radio Royal York’s public video welcome to Blissdom organizers who were visiting Toronto.  He hasn’t decided if it’s a mistake or a good way to engage with a customer and asks if anyone else had seen something similar.  However, the situation is somewhat moot. At the time of writing, the video has been removed.

In case you missed it, our last topic is the upcoming Facebook IPO and the company’s disclosure that the majority of its revenue comes from ad dollars.

In fact, the big three social media players – Facebook, Twitter and Google+ – are all media companies of sorts and have finally figured out now they monetize their innovations – by selling us (and our data). There’s no doubt they’re great networks that extend the scope of our relationships, but we are still the product.

Martin wonders how they’ll deal with large policy issues like freedom of speech and feels governments should monitor the situation to ensure we keep the Internet open.  Joe isn’t happy with that type of intervention – he’d rather see governments focus on education and standards.

Next week is Social Media Week in various cities around the world.  Here’s where to get a full list of events.  And if you’re in Toronto on February 17, Third Tuesday Toronto is hosting a breakfast event on open government featuring Tony Clement, M.P., President of the Treasury Board of Canada. It should be a lively discussion.

And that’s a wrap! We’ll talk to you next week.

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Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoe Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Kristine Simpson.

Comments

  1. Lauren Fernandez

    I struggled a bit with this post.

    Look, I get what you’re saying. Deleting comments CAN be a bad thing, especially when a customer or consumer wants to be heard. Web posting assessment rules (think a social media playbook) can help a company assess a situation and what type of commenter it is.

    Our PR firm actually counsels us to delete if it breaks our house rules or Facebook TOS, which I think is a sound strategy. Free reign can ruin your brand, especially if it is a rager with bad language or defamation toward the CEO/brand.

    Our house rules look like this, and are posted on all of our pages. We do refer to them quite frequently, and its a very similar approach to online forum moderating.

    ————-

    While we’re excited to hear from you, it’s important to note that [BRAND] fan postings to the [BRAND] fan page are not representative of the opinions of [BRAND] or Landry’s, Inc., nor do we confirm their accuracy.

    As part of our commitment to you, the fans, we’ll do our best to ensure the postings on our fan page are in line with the [BRAND] philosophies. However, since we unfortunately can’t monitor every posting or conversation, [BRAND] expects that users will not post content that falls into the following categories and reserves the right to remove postings and fans that are:

    • abusive, defamatory, or obscene
    • fraudulent, deceptive or misleading
    • in violation of any intellectual property right of another
    • in violation of any law or regulation
    • otherwise offensive

    For existing fans: if you do not wish to be a fan of the [BRAND] page, please feel free to “unfan” our page by clicking the link “Remove me from Fans.”

    I am currently in the process of actually creating tabs to state these rules, so they will co-exist with our Info tab. They need to be easy to find. AT&T does a good job of this.

    Just a brand perspective, at least for us.

    Lauren

  2. Lauren, Thank you for providing your perspective. The important thing for me is that you’ve published your “house rules” on the pages so that people can know what they are before they interact with you. In this context, I think you are absolutely justified in removing comments that fail to comply with those rules. To me, this is different from the circumstance in which a company simply doesn’t like what is being said and, without advance notice, removes the comments they don’t like. If organizations want to participate in social media they should do as you have and develop and state the rules of engagement in advance. Kudos to you.

  3. Petra Opelova

    Hi guys,

    I completely agree with you on the issue of deleting comments.
    I believe that company should be clear on their comments policy with both their internal and external stakeholders. Deleting offensive or vulgar comments is fine but it doesn’t hurt to explain why you deleted them (referencing the policy) so your actions are 100% transparent.

    On the other hand, deleting comments just because they are negative or you are not able to answer them in a way that would be positive for your company does more damage than leaving them. I think that when you are able to handle these comments in a respectful manner you get more plus points and at the end, you may come out of it as the ‘winner’.

    When I was working for Pinkebrry in the UK, we had a bit of a mixxed problem. We received some hate messages on Facebook concerning the secrecy around ingredients of our products. As some of them used a rather strong language, I was forced to delete them. However, I decided to explain why I did so (breach of our facebook policy) and also answered their concerns to show that we were not trying to avoid the issue. My comment got support from a large amount of our fans who not only ‘liked’ it but also commented on it themselves. Being honest and respectable always pays off in the long run.

  4. Petra, I really like your approach. Being transparent about what you’ve done with a comment and why you’ve done it is the right way to go. I totally agree with you that honesty and respect will carry us a long way.

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