A couple of weeks ago I wrote about What Spam Delivers. After receiving a series of email error messages and annoying spam when welcoming someone who signed off as Nancy @ delivermagazine, I decided to share my experience. My hope was also to find out what happened, since I read Deliver magazine.
Yesterday, I received an email from Dave Scott, who said he is associated with the publication and informed me he was investigating the incident. I promised Dave I would follow up with a post if he shared the results of his investigation. Today, Nancy Adams, a writer for Deliver, cleared up what happened and apologized for the confusion.
"I used that moniker strictly as a way of identifying myself as belonging with the magazine," she said. When she wrote @ delivermagazine, she meant that she wrote for the magazine, not to indicate an email address. Nancy acknowledged to being a novice blogger. I really appreciate the effort to reach out. And now I'm actually happy to have connected with her.
A solid reputation is important, and conversations help you build one. It's easy to write or say something that gets taken out of context. That's why it's important to establish a strong brand with a voice to participate in that conversation. Protecting your reputation becomes more important online. A story can go around the world in nanoseconds -- if you haven't built a strong brand to begin with, you are left in reactive mode and may never recover.
That is the topic of Thor's post at Get Satisfaction. [Thanks to Steve August of KDA Research for pointing me to this blog.] Thor outlines Five Ways to Build and Defend Your Reputation Online. His points, my examples from experience:
- Cast a long shadow -- the right kind of proactive visibility helps. Over the many years I have counseled companies on crisis communications. My first piece of advice is to build your brand. Be active and engaged in a constant conversation with your audiences, customers and employees and they will be listening when the time comes. Crisis communication begins with how you build your business and brand in the first place.
- Tell your side of the story -- this seems to be the hardest one. I wrote about it before, you need to respond to the issues, not react to the people or organizations. Responding is professional, reacting is personal. Don't make it personal, it's not. Focus on how you can articulate your take in a manner that keeps the conversation honest, and open. If you don't know what happened, say so.
- Give a heartfelt apology -- nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes. Admitting a mistake with sincerity is admirable. I would also like to note here that saying "you're sorry" for something does not constitute admission of culpability. Companies are often worried about that. If something you produce or do causes a problem -- as in an accident -- saying you're sorry does not equal saying that you did something wrong on purpose. It shows empathy towards the people affected.
- Assemble an army -- this happened to me on the listserv I moderate. An article I shared with the network angered one person who used the topic to inflame and highjack the group in order to send a political message. My example touched upon a political topic. Since I had been moderating that listserv for years, many members posted messages to support the intent of my post and vouched to my credibility and character. I apologized anyway, because the discussion was negative and I had a hand in causing it, even if unintentionally.
- Stand for something -- Thor says it best, "It’s about showing sustained commitment to an organizing principle over time." This is part of being authentic and focused, doing the work, and communicating your brand consistently. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for everything.
What examples can you share of how conversations helped you build a reputation and brand?