I had a wonderful meal at a new Italian restaurant in my office building. I talked to my friends about this restaurant. I even did a blog post on it. That’s what word-of-mouth is all about. Do something good and people talk about you.
Business owners try to generate positive word-of-mouth. It’s not easy but worth the effort. Somebody saying good things about you is far more effective than you saying good things about yourself.
But what about bad news, what happens when you screw up? Word spreads and apparently five times faster and further. Douglas Adams says in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws”.
The damage that bad news can do is much more than the upside from good news. Businesses ignore this fundamental difference between good news and bad news. They are too focused on generating the former, and ignore the consequences of the latter.
This can be dangerous because everyone now has access to WMD’s (weapons of mass distribution). Facebook, Twitter and You Tube will get the message out faster than you can imagine.
PR companies talk about crisis planning and management. That’s a top-down approach; in other words, how should top management behave when things go very wrong. Guidelines at the level of troops are needed, the top 10 mistakes and what to do when it happens.
Here’s new deck on some of the most damaging reputation mess-ups of 2011. Instructive stuff, and while you are at it, also read one of my earlier posts on the history of social media screw-ups.