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Kill Your Brand, Fight Transparency

by Matthijs. Average Reading Time: about 4 minutes.

Op ViralBlog.com schrijf ik over social media. Het niveau ligt hier hoog en de artikelen hebben diepgang. Graag wil ik deze artikelen ook met jullie op mijn eigen blog delen. De teksten laat ik eerst even Engels. Als jij als lezer vind dat dit niet hoort op mijn blog en de teksten echt veel liever in het Nederlands ziet, geef dat dan even aan in de comments. Bij genoeg animo zal ik de artikelen vertalen. :-)

Kill Your (Personal) Brand, Fight Transparency (ViralBlog pagina)

What if you do something wrong? People will write about it. People will spread the word. Why? Because they can. Because it became so easy with today’s technology. Reaching out to your peers with a question, statement or opinion isn’t about effort and time anymore.

It’s about the content of the message. Is it worth spreading? Will my friends like to hear it? A Belgium minister learned about this side of social media in a very hard lesson.

The truth about it is, that people will talk about your brand or personality if they think you did something wrong. Why wouldn’t they? Maybe they’ll help out other people making a decision. Only if you bind people to your brand, they won’t be / or will be talking less with bad mouths about you or your brand.

People tend to blog more and more about daily life and daily happenings. In this example, a Belgium student blogged about her life and happenings as a foreign student in the States. She’s earning some extra money by working in a bar. She recognized a customer as Pieter de Crem, the Minister of Defense from here home country, being totally drunk, embarrassing himself / his fellow travelers and acting the way drunk people act. To make it even a bit worse, one of the polician’s advisors admitted to her that the meetings which brought them to New York got canceled but they decided to come to New York anyway despite being aware of the cancellation.

When you go wrong, people will talk
The minister found out about the blog and someone from De Crem’s office called the establisment in which the girl was working. Her boss wasn’t totally happy with this “mouthy” blogging of his employee and decided to fire her. De Crem denied the fact of the phonecall at first but stated later that there actually was a phonecall with the boss of the girl.

The Belgium media got a grip on these events because of the blog. The incident didn’t only affect his personal brand, but also woke up some sleeping dogs in the Parliament. The story made it in to the world. First bloggers from Belgium picked up the story. It became an interesting case. “Girl gets fired because of blogging” was a headline that got read by many eyes. Pieter de Crem had to defend hisself in his parliament and stated the following (Dutch):

English translation of the statement:

I want to take this opportunity and use this non-event to signal a dangerous phenomenon in our society. We live in a time where everybody is free to publish whatever he or she wants on blogs at will without taking any responsibility. This exceeds mud-slinging. Together with you, other Parliament members and the government I find that it’s nearly impossible to defend yourself against this. Everyone of you is a potential victim. I would like to ask you to take a moment and think about this.

Say what? Bloggers are dangerous? The best way to make – powerful – people write about you and your bad behavior, is by offending them. Job well done. Compare these results of the mentioning of de Crem on Twitter versus McCain:

decrem_mccain

The Twitter search shows a huge amount of hits on de Crem and also Google is indexing the bad articles with a high value.

Learnings
What if this wasn’t about a minister but about your brand or your the brand of your client? Would you do the same thing? Call the boss of the blogger suggesting some kind of punishment would be suitable? I guess that’s not the most wise decision.

The occurred event wasn’t the damage maker. The response was. Everybody can act a bit different in particular situations, especially if alcohol is involved. It’s completely human. Everybody makes these kind of mistakes in public. Even important people. So what would have been a wiser decision for Pieter de Crem?

Transparency
The first thing that could have been done was being transparant about the situation. He’s telling the Parliament he still had appointments. Why isn’t he sharing this with the people outside the Parliament? People would be feeling more involved with the job of this particular minister – Do you know the minister of Foreign Affairs from Holland is Twittering most of his appointments? – if he’d just share his days in New York.

The second thing is doing just a little bit of research in the way news is being released and read by a huge population. Blogs are not something dangerous for politics. If he had done some research, he would find out that the best way to solve the issue was by listening to the people, being transparent and maybe even appoligize for the events that happened. Don’t just fear the things you don’t understand.

Remember the Motrin Case? They solved the issue by listening to their audience, adjusting to the situation and by doing this earning tremendous credibility.

(Sources: lvb.net, Nathalie Lubbebakker weblog, Techcrunch)

2 comments on ‘Kill Your Brand, Fight Transparency’
  1. Good point, good story. Minor detail: Maxime Verhagen is Foreign Affairs, not Defense.

  2. Matthijs says:

    You’re totally right! Changed it in the articles. Thnx!

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