Syracuse University Newhouse School Reunion

On Friday, January 8, 2010, I had the pleasure of participating in Syracuse University’s Newhouse School Masters in Communications Management program reunion.  It was a great affair. I focused my presentation, Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, on three parts that I felt would be beneficial to this group of seasoned PR professionals: Learning from the past, PR today and Public Relations in the future.

Fast forward to one of my favorite part of the session….the Q&A.  One question during the Q&A really kept the discussion going: “What do you do if you have any employee that you can’t remove from the organization and that is very negative, becomes an obstacle or a deterrent detractor?”  Wow…what a great question.  In my opinion, I think it’s important to include those naysayers or detractors in your social media efforts.  And, if you can include these members of the organization, in the beginning, then perhaps by asking their opinions and keeping them updated, you will allow them to air their concerns/differences and come to a resolve.

I asked the audience to jump in and to answer this question.  Diane Thieke, Director, Global Public Relations from Dow Jones gave a really great example of what Microsoft did with, at the time, employee Robert Scoble (@scobleizer).  Scoble, during his tenure at Microsoft, was often frustrated and very public about his views regarding the company.  However, Microsoft allowed Scoble to discuss his issues openly and used Scoble’s popularity as a blogger to its advantage. As a result, Microsoft gained a tremendous amount of publicity.

The discussion continued a bit further to include: What do you do if you have an employee who, after hours, is a deterrent detractor but you can’t even prove that it is, in fact, this person discussing the organization in an unfavorable light.  Another really interesting question!  Depending on the nature of the communication, you should always give the right information (so there are no inaccurate statements about the brand).  If your company has limited resources, sometimes it’s difficult to continue to respond to the negative discussion.  In some case, you may sit back (regardless if you think it could be an employee or not) and just wait to see if the community steps in to defend the brand and correct the situation.  Having a strong, vocal community will often clear up the issues and cease any negative comments about the brand.

I also pointed out the U.S. Air Force has a great response chart to determine the best way to react to conversations in the blogosphere.  A picture of the diagram is below:


I had a great time presenting at the Syracuse University Newhouse reunion and thoroughly enjoyed a really dynamic discussion. I think we all walked away with some great suggestions and newfound knowledge.  If there’s one thing I find to be consistent in my social media efforts, it’s that we are all learning together!