Any business owner or PR pro who has unexpectedly caused a huge uproar online has quickly learned an important lesson about the Internet: every word counts. When you post on Facebook, submit a press release to a website, or even send an email to a customer, you’re putting your reputation on the line.
All it takes is one slip-up or a sentence taken out of context and suddenly the Internet turns on you and you’re left scrambling. Lose your temper at one irritating customer? The next day you come into your shop and find the local news there demanding an explanation of your behavior.
Keeping Your Cool
Remember the Cooks’ Source magazine debacle? A blogger found this magazine had been stealing her material from her blog and printing it without her permission. The blogger sent an email saying that it wasn’t cool and they should make a donation to a charity in her honor for payment.
The magazine editor’s response was to send an incredibly rude and angry email to the blogger berating her for ever contacting them in the first place. They went on to say the blogger should be lucky the magazine published the piece with her name on it and that everything on the Internet was “fair game.”
Obviously the editor doesn’t really know how the Internet works. So it makes sense that they didn’t realize that the contents of their angry email would leak out to the rest of the world. And while this is an obvious example, we sometimes forget that the words we put out there don’t go away.
It’s very important to remain cool at all times. Even when the angriest, most vile person on the planet shows up at your door or on Facebook, keep your temper down. If not, you’ll end up saying something you’d rather not get around to the rest of the world.
Take Extra Measure
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes get paranoid about posting something online or hitting “Send” in my email. I look over everything about a thousand times to make sure there isn’t something that’s confusing or if there’s a different way I can phrase a sentence.
This is just me being nuts. However, for every person like me there’s someone else who just hits “Post Message” as fast as they can. They literally could not care less about editing what they send out there.
Try to find a happy medium between those two worlds. Once you craft your message (email, Facebook post, press release, whatever) go over it a handful of times to make sure there’s nothing confusing or offensive.
This is especially true if it’s a reply to an angry customer – if your temper is threatening to rise, you may have accidentally included something hurtful or reactionary. If you’re really worried, let yourself cool down or get a colleague to look over it.
How often do you check a message before sending it out?
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here: http://www.ereleases.com/prchecklist.html