Social Media Silver Bullet, Penn State, the Vatican, and Bulls$#@t (a Rant)
Several scandals and troublesome events have me wound up this week. With the conviction of Penn State’s Sandusky for molesting boys, to the hiring of a Fox PR guy by the Vatican, my head just might explode. Throw in seemingly everyone’s comments about the part social media played to “cause” these scandals and I am seriously in Rantville. I think I will simply vent, ok?
Social Media Didn’t “Cause” Squat!
Seems that many in media online are talking about how social media played a part in these problems, how the way organizations handled their social caused the “real” trouble. Twitter makes you molest little boys? Really? The Facebook culture makes everyone look the other way, even when they see first hand what is happening? Seriously? Texting makes people willing to cover everything up? Oversharing makes us all numb to crimes against kids? You have got to be joking!! How can grown adults write this crap? I don’t even feel right linking to the various articles I read because I don’t want to give the authors face-time.
Perhaps I am too hard on the industry but this is what I think – when an organization has engaged in fraud, felonies, abuse, conspiracy, and extortion, you’re pretty much screwed. No way to sweeten the pot. No way to “fix” your reputation. Take your knocks and deal with it. Fix the problem and clean house completely – which will likely include ousting the very people currently spinning the story – and devote yourself full time to making amends, not to making the horrible story sound ok.
No hack is going to help and you shouldn’t even be spending your time and money there. I would applaud the PR professionals who simply refuse to help such an organization. Yes, I believe a public and zero tolerance shunning is an acceptable reaction. I confess I am not being rational. I will try to take a deep breath and get back in touch with my loving center….ommmmm….
Social Media is NOT a Silver Bullet
NO, social media will not make you look good if you’re a d-bag. NO, social media won’t make everyone’s loyalty remain intact when you’ve violated a trust. NO, social media fans will not stand by you when you hurt kids. It’s crazy to think that any network would do that.
A community isn’t loyal because they love you unconditionally. It’s because they trust you to be a good member, to be a contributor, to have the tribe’s best interest at heart. No one says “Hey, let’s be sure to include the a-hole who can’t be trusted, who doesn’t give a rat’s a%$#ss about us, and who will throw us under the bus if it suits his purposes to the party” Yeah, no one does that.
Hiring a press guy to say whatever you think sounds better or to “separate” your organization from the scandal and the individuals involved (even as your organization is also culpable for what it did/didn’t do) is a crock. Stirring the communication pot won’t work either. Social won’t help any of that, no matter how quickly you respond. It’s not a magical silver bullet.
Spinmasters Don’t Fix Anything
Newsflash – spinning BS doesn’t turn it into roses. Never has, never will. Hiring someone who specializes in altering the truth so it makes you look better doesn’t change what you did or didn’t do. It’s not about word choice. It’s about being a decent person or company. The sooner we all give up the mistaken notion that we have any control whatsoever over how people see us, the better off we are. Have values, stand by them, live them, and deal with the result of that.
Picking splinters out of your crack from sitting on the fence trying to please everyone won’t work either. I am guessing somewhere in the world there are people upset that anyone is getting in trouble for touching little boys. I am guessing there are people who think it’s way too unfair to even discuss a case like Penn State outside a courtroom. I am guessing that there are people who believe the “one bad apple/priest” story. Whatever. Just don’t spin an apple as an orange and expect me to eat it because that’s not happening!
BS is Simply That – BS!
As our culture shifts to more transparency and sharing, it can get difficult. In some ways, we are all vulnerable. What we think is ok and sane and fine might seem crazy space astronaut strange and wrong to others. We all have our predilections and vices, some illegal (and rightfully so) and others not.
Some perfectly legal actions can get you in “trouble” but let’s face it – one group’s villain is another group’s hero. Time, place, and your buy-in to whatever group you align yourself with shapes the situation and affects your results. As the pie gets bigger, it’s ever more likely that you will be misunderstood and misjudged. We are all in that boat, so welcome aboard.
Even what is illegal shifts, so that standard doesn’t even make something right or wrong. We all have to pick what we do and have to live by it. Not everyone will understand us and not everyone will like us or judge us in a positive light, no matter how righteous we feel/are.
I am not an advocate for the death penalty (metaphorically or otherwise) but working to make your image look better instead of actually being better is simply nonsense.
If you want social media to work in your favor, be better. Live better. Don’t imagine that spin will save you because it won’t. A quicker, more responsive interaction on social media might soften the blow, but it won’t fix the real problem. FIX YOUR REAL PROBLEMS, and let your social media reflect your culture. You aren’t really able to hide anymore – people aren’t that stupid, so stop it already!
Breathing in….breathing out….breathing in…breathing out…ommmmm….
Til next time,
Vicki @Smartwoman Flaugher
[graphic by Victor Bezrukov]
Published: June 27, 2012 By: