Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ah, Mitch Stewart, there you are! Just as the Heartland blows a gasket.

A few things struck me today that reminded me timing is really, really freaking important. First, health care.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, the previously-successful-at-social-media Obama administration has completely missed the boat in utilizing its network to dispel rumors about the health care plan and public option. 

According to an NBC News poll, not only is Obama's disapproval rating at an all-time high, so is the misinformation permeating conversations across the country regarding the health insurance reform proposal. Forty percent of those surveyed said Obama's health care plan would only worsen the quality of their current coverage and that it will limit patients' access to doctors as well as medical treatment options. However, when presented specifics about the plan 53% said they would support a plan with those details. 

Just today, I received only my second email from Mitch Stewart with more details and rumor clarification about the program. Here's the thing: the 'damage control' ship has sailed. As NBC News also asked, are there too many misconceptions circling the nation to ever reel in this issue? Had the administration better planned for the worst-case-scenario word-of-mouth before introducing the proposal they would have had a better shot at controlling the conversation. Now it may be too late. 

Another time sensitive issue--of a much lighter note and of less national significance, so take a breath--happened today in the public relations world. Many of the PR pros I follow on Twitter were discussing Beth Brody of Brody PR and a huge faux pas she committed earlier in the day. Long story short: Beth spammed a "marketing piece" for her firm to every PR big wig in her contact list. And when I say big, I mean big. The problem: she open cc'd all of the addresses instead of choosing the much more subtle bcc option, allowing a public "Reply All" free for all.  Rather than immediately issuing a mea culpa, apologizing for the email debacle, neither she nor her team released a statement until about 7 hours later. In the meantime, the topic harpooned on Twitter into the Biggest Mistake Ever made by a PR professional. This is a perfect example of the need to respond immediately and clearly. Social networks just move too fast (if you're the one who made a mistake).

PR pros, I'd love to hear your thoughts on timeliness. Can you be prepared for everything, with a plan ready to go, even for social blunders like the famed "reply all" response? 


Samantha said...

Really great post.

Timeliness is one of the key factors of a news story. It's also the key factor of ANYTHING.

The well-known adage, "Good things come to those who wait," only works for some things in life. However, it does not work for crisis communication or repairing/apologizing for a huge blunder.

Social media is not a scapegoat. This includes e-mails. We learn from day one not to SPAM anyone with a pitch. Building a formidable relationship first will provide a pathway to pitch later.

The fact that they chose to CC the e-mail instead of choosing BCC is a faux pas for sure; but sending the same pitch to a group of PR power players proves to be a bigger problem. Where is the personal touch in that? Where is the relationship?

Just a few thoughts...

Digital Wissler said...

Isn't a primary component of PR ensuring that the recipient of your pitch feels unique? I definitely agree that the thing that sucks the most is that all of those industry big-wigs know that Brody PR spams them.