Earlier this month the folks at Rocket Lawyer and I recorded a podcast with Canadian legal commentator Omar Ha-Redeye. We primarily discussed WikiLeaks, but digressed into an interesting discussion of online reputation management. Omar comes from a background in crisis communications, and gave us another good reason why it’s important for anyone in private enterprise to have a blog and Twitter account.
Me: “Coming from a background in crisis communications, I’m sure defamation is something you’ve had pretty in depth exposure to, especially in sort of a private sector way. I was wondering if you could give us some actionable insights into how small business or private owners might react to that sort of exposure online.”
Omar: “Well, I think you touched on it exactly there with your last few words there, is that they shouldn’t be reacting. In my opinion, and this is I think a benchmark in the communications industry, private sector should not be reacting to defamatory statements or statements that are affecting their credibility.
What they should be doing is acting proactively and mitigating the threat from the outset. So what that means is that they should be online, they should have a web presence, they should have blogs and Twitter and all those things that we see communications people talking about because the reality is if you wait until the crisis is there it’s already too late.
And we saw that for example with the BP British Petroleum oil crisis, where BP realized that after the oil spill everybody was talking about them on Twitter, everybody, and there was even a fake Twitter account parodying BP’s response (@BPGlobalPR – still active with 182,033 followers). They came to the party late. They showed up and they tried to provide their perspective, their point of view, and at that point, it was way too late. The community of people that were already there online weren’t willing to listen to them because it was so obvious that they had just showed up to try to influence things in a different way, whereas had they been involved in communicating with the public prior to this, well in advance of any sort of incident, then they may have had a different type of relationship and a different type of communication with the public.”