One year ago, BP faced it’s worse PR nightmare ever. The explosion of an oil rig and subsequent leaking of oil in the Gulf of Mexico left the company scrambling to not only save the environment but save face as well. The company made PR mistake after mistake in the days following the disaster but when they did finally grab the reigns and really took control they were able to deftly utilize a powerful tool, social media. As I listened to a story about BP and their PR blunders, one part stood out to me,
“During the peak of the crisis, tens of thousands of people were following BP on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Marino says people’s rage toward the company came through loud and clear.
‘We let people vent their anger and their frustration on Facebook or in response to any of the tweets that we put up there,’ says Marino, … ‘I think the best thing that social media did was to give people that outlet and allow people to feel that BP was hearing them, which they were.’“
I found myself vigorously nodding as I listened to the radio program. That has got to be the best summation that I have heard as to of why social media has gained such ground over the years. We all just want to be heard. And we want to know that someone is listening.
And while it’s true that anyone can get on Twitter or Facebook and proclaim to the Internet their feelings about everything from politics to music to sports to what kind of washing machine is best (or worst); I feel that bloggers, especially those of us who have ever accepted product from a company and shared our thoughts about it on our blogs, have a slightly different responsibility when it comes to being heard. I don’t just say this because I speak to you now as a representative of a company that works with brands to put product in your hands for review. I found this to be a common sense ethic the very first time I was sent a product and asked to give my opinion on it. If I wanted to continue being approached to do reviews and spread the word about products, I needed to behave myself and tone down the criticism. Someone is always listening on the Internet.
However, I don’t think this means that we must be social media doormats and only tweet benign statements like, “blue is my favorite color but if it’s not yours that’s totally cool too”! As bloggers, we have proved that we have powerful voices, ones that bring about change, that rally aid and spread valuable information and content. Some of the most inspiring events that I have witnessed over the past few years have happened online. We know that we are being heard.
As bloggers, many of us find ourselves in contact with PR firms, sometimes on a daily basis. And one of the biggest complaints of bloggers is that PR doesn’t seem to listen. I offer this suggestion to you: become the PR firm of your brand, your site, your online presence. Take a page from BP’s book, learn from their mistakes. No, you’re not a multi-billion corporation, but you do have value. Think before you tweet, Facebook, blog or vlog. Then turn the tables and be the one who listens instead of always trying to be heard.
You are your own brand, how are you representing yourself?
This is an Op-Ed article by O2O Community Manager and Blog Editor, Malia Carden. The opinions expressed are her own.
Images from Microsoft ClipArt Online.