There are many examples of people pissing off bloggers and the company regretting it. When bloggers are riled there is usually swift and painful retribution. In some cases though it would be a far smarter move to ignore the blogger and move on, sometimes reacting is just pouring fuel on the fire.
The famous example of “ignore it and it might go away” going wrong is of course the Kryptonite Lock debacle. Remember that? The super-secure bike lock … that could be unlocked using a bic pen. In that case ignoring the blogger strategy heavily backfired. Whoah did that backfire. The main hurt came from big media like the New York Times, that is when ordinary Joseph and Josephine Public got to hear about the story but a bit better handling at the start might have headed off the worst of it.
Now a case where the company should have really left well alone. I just read via Business Blog Consulting
about Eric D. Snider and his Paramount bust up. Apparently he tore into press junkets and Paramount responded by not only booting him off their junket list but also banning him from press screenings and also got their publicists to ban him from screenings from other studios. For a start a tad over-dramatic response, but also probably unnecessary.
In the first example there was clearly something A) very very wrong and B) very very newsworthy. It ticks the boxes for how to make an idea viral; it is easy to understand, it’s interesting and remarkable, easy to spread, easy to remember and passing along provides a benefit (ie. “your $50 lock is practically useless” “geez I didn’t know that, thanks friend!”).
The Paramount case didn’t meet the viral criteria until Paramount got over zealous in their retaliation. Originally the story was pretty ho-hum, I mean who isn’t already cynical about film reviews and their junkets? Even if you weren’t, people aren’t going to stop going to films just because some journo got bribed to make happy-quotes, right? But a zero-story becomes a story when it becomes “film company over-reacts and tries squashing poor little film critic” or somesuch.
So what is the litmus test for this kind of thing? Here are the main pain points as far as I see it:
- First consideration has to be is there any validity to the story?
- Regardless of validity, how likely are people to believe it (or want to believe it)?
- Is it interesting?
- How damaging will it be if not nipped in the bud?
- How viral could it be?
- How much is it going to cost in time and money to get the story “corrected”?
In the first story it was obviously valid, people definitely believed it but after the non-reaction of the company, really wanted to believe it too. The product was a joke and the company did nothing in the early days to correct it and this ended up really damaging the company. It was massively viral and who knows what the final price tag was. Our second story, validity … well I will let you decide, but before they waded in it fell on the “interesting” and “viral” tests. Originally it was about as viral as the shock that some politicians are corrupt. No, really? Zzzz.
So far we have only looked at the story from the company point of view but this stuff is pure gold for the blogger.
If you hit on a story that meets all the viral criteria and pain points then you ought to have a real winner on your hands
- A campaign for people to get behind
- You become the hero
- Masses of traffic
- An ever-green story that will last and last
- 15mins of fame – TV, Radio, Print mentions
- And possibly fight injustice or fix a faulty product
So get looking out for stories you could break. Of course I wouldn’t recommend provoking the company in question into over-reacting with their response to make your story better …