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Angryjournalist.com – I love this site. It lets journalists tell us why they are mad. And they are really angry. For most people in communications, media relations is a part of the gig. It can be incredibly challenging and rewarding and, depending on what day it is, what the other news is and who you get on the other end of the phone — it can be tough. This site helps me understand better what the person on the other end of the phone is dealing with when I call to pitch. Journalists have a tough job — and it’s getting tougher as the world goes online more and more — and more! This site gives us a little peek through the fence. I know it helps me do my job better because I get what they are up against. It isn’t just about the pitch (although that’s important)… there’s more to getting their attention than that.

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I have heard little bits about Hatebook.

So, wanting to know more – I hit the site and joined to see what was going on. I am a big fan of social media. I think there is a lot going on and we, as people, as well as professionals need to know about it. The good and the bad. Hatebook isn’t a part of that. It’s a nasty place, full of anger and venom and, well… hate.

This was my welcome email:

Hello Loser,

Welcome to Hatebook!

Your registration to the Evil Empire was successful.

Feel free to pimp your hate profile.

 

After signing in to this site, I want to go and hug my husband, pet my dogs and have a shower. Sometimes things can be taken too far. In my opinion, this is one of them.

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There was an interesting article in the New York Times recently about doctor’s acknowledging and apologizing for their medical mistakes. It is interesting to note that at the University of Michigan Health System, one of the first to experiment with a full disclosure approach (which includes apologizing face-to-face to patients), lawsuits dropped from 262 in August 2001 to 83 in August 2007. 

As communicators, approaching an issue has always been about acknowledging the impact an action, situation, incident or tragedy has had on people – one person at a time. Sometimes what a communicator would like to do conflicts with what legal would like to have happen. That’s understandable, but now with immediate attention focused on what a company does or should have done in an issue or crisis, decisions have to be made quickly and they need to be authentic and transparent. It seems that in the medical field, the full disclosure approach is telling us that people want mistakes to be acknowledged and to be dealt with person to person. I know it’s what I would want.

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The BBC news carried a piece last week about how Swiss company Nestle had “deeply offended” the people of Azerbaijan with a recent marketing campaign aimed at selling cereal to the Azeri people.

As part of this campaign, Nestle attached a CD-ROM to cereal boxes that contained information about the countries of the world. The piece in the CD about Azerbaijan said the central-Asian country started a war with its neighbor Armenia over a hotly contested strip of land called Nagorno-Karabakh.

That conflict has killed more than 30,000 people since the 1990s and displaced hundreds of thousands more. Being reminded of this black spot in their history — on a cereal box –outraged the Azeris. Swiss-based Nestle has apologized for the goof and recalled the CDs.

The thing is, I have been all over the Nestle website and there is NOTHING on the site acknowledging this issue. Except for the apology, which I have only heard about and not seen…Nestle is ignoring the blogosphere and it’s global audience. If they had put something on their site and let all of us know that that they have apologized, that they are making this right …it would be a good thing. Then, bloggers could point to the text of the apology and that this is being taken seriously. And while their first priority should acknowledging and apologizing to the people of Azerbaijan, they should also be thinking about consumers worldwide who want to know what they have done to make this right.

Another minor embarrassment for the company with this issue … last year at an International Association of Business Communicators conference in New Orleans, Tengku Marina Badlishah, a Nestle rep, sat on a panel titled, “Avoiding Costly Mistakes in Asian Markets.”

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Post by: Ruth Atherley of AHA Creative Strategies

Communication has changed. We all know that. How it has changed and how it will continue to change is a hot topic right now. Interestingly enough, Delta Airlines has created a mini site to inform stakeholders about the proposed merger between their company and Northwest.

According to a blog posting by Harvard Business Review’s Scott Berinato, this is the future of press releases. While I appreciate his viewpoint and do think mini or micro-sites such as this are a valuable addition to the communications mix … they are added-value. Especially sites such as this one. It’s still one-dimensional and has been created in the old model of the web – information out to an audience, but no interaction or real dialogue.

We have been working with forward-thinking clients on a communications approach that we’ve been calling “diablogs” – micro-sites that provide basic information like a more traditional website, but that reach out and ask for input, engagement and interaction. If there is something important enough to create a micro-site, it seems to make sense to bring stakeholders into that conversation and to really listen to what they have to say. There is a huge opportunity here. One that Delta may have missed in creating their mini-site.

What if they had included a blog on this site where we could hear from the top executive of the two companies, employees or even other passengers — and we could respond to what they had to say. What if they created an easily updated page where they could address rumours, speculation and misinformation. This site isn’t going to live forever, it’s not a long term commitment for senior execs to speak WITH us … and if this is the press release of the future, I would hope it would be interactive enough to give reporters and the general public interested in this topic more than just the company line. It’s great to tell people where an organization stands, it’s even better to hear what those people think about it. That’s when the magic of real connection begins to happen.

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