Posted by Tom Gable
How quickly to respond to negative blogs and comments? Gable PR had a recent experience with a client that announced progress with a controversial technology for drug discovery. We anticipated feedback and had assembled an extensive array of data, links and citations for outside validation. Unfortunately, we soon found ourselves in an imbroglio that went far beyond questions on the technology
The CEO, we soon learned, had personal and financial issues in a previous business almost two decades ago. The science story drew mostly positive coverage. A science blogger probed into the technology and a skeptic’s manifesto. Worse, a former girlfriend to the CEO soon added to the comments. She wrote under a pseudonym and blasted the CEO for a bad real estate deal, other business transactions that went sour and even previous jobs held by the wife (personal shopper at Nordstrom). Others popped in via Twitter.
The CFO of the company responded with facts and suggested that perhaps the personal attacks weren’t relevant and bordered on defamation, which generated more personal attacks!
Long story short: the company stopped responding and the commentary died a day later. Lesson learned: answer succinctly and factually to correct the record; don’t get caught up in continuing the negative dialogue and personal attacks, which seems to get progressively worse and more personal once the opposition figures out that the facts are against them.
Understand that the half life of a Tweet is two to five minutes, according to a study of an Audi program that used Twitter for branding, and hot blogging topics, particularly on obscure topics, flame out and die in a day or two.
The plan, then, is to set aside ego, which is often difficult, especially when the attacker and his or her motives are known. Stick to the facts, post and move on. You will be amazed how quickly the issue goes away (well, it never totally goes away, since the Internet is forever).