Earned media gone bad

9 Jan

After reading an interesting blog this week by Deborah Bates from Red Rocket Media on The Wall about earned media I was grateful for the clear definition as to what it is. I was even more grateful that it fits in tightly to my job description. Earned media is just a new buzz word for PR – third party endorsements. For a moment I thought my client knew more about the industry than I did!

But, what this explanation of earned media doesn’t do is identify that it can go wrong (and often does) for brands – through negative comments.

No one has time to read the full list of online brand blunders to date, but I’ve had to blog about the stupidity of Odeon, American Apparel and Helen Flanagan just in the last few months. So how are we meant to prevent earned media gone bad?

1) Respond to all enquiries
This will help stop challenges before they get off the ground. Even if you can’t help, try and signpost the user to the right direction. You can’t fault someone for being polite can you?

2) Don’t delay
If you take too long to respond to an enquiry and it blows up into a social media storm, people will be pull you up on the time it takes you to respond. Too long and you’re perceived as not caring / understanding that there’s a problem.

At the beginning of campaigns, why not troubleshoot some potential issues with mock responses and solutions and file away just in case you need them?

3) See it from their POV
A customer has just had a negative experience. Have some empathy – we’ve all been there. Acknowledge the issue by giving them a shoulder to cry on, offer a solution and ask others to come forward that might be feeling the same. Brands often sort out issues one-on-one but they could earn brownie points by helping a few others at the same time.

4) Be consistent
A colleague at William Murray raised a brilliant point today: a key message posted online today might not be relevant or in line with your strategy tomorrow. Make sure you don’t stray too far from your company’s core values to demonstrate consistency to fans and followers. Any curve balls will be thrown back, hard.

5) Be honest
If you’re being measured against earned media be honest with your client. Great – you’ve secured 10 examples of positive comments. But, if you don’t flag the 100 neutral-negative ones, then the client will be saying something to you and it won’t be pretty.

It doesn’t mean a bad job has been done – it just reiterates that nobody has a grip on cyber space. Put the figures in perspective.

What are your views on earned media? How is it working for you and your clients?

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