2443128847_4b923ea3e4Update: Who said anonymous commenters cannot be helpful? Anon 3.0 is the kind of helpful, if not mildly (just a bit) abusive commenter, who makes up for all that bad blood by being helpful – he/ she’s pointed out oh-so-helpfully that I got the spelling of Qantas wrong 7 times. That was so damn sweet!

Laurel Papworth aka Silkcharm recently posted a rant about Qantas bungling on their loyalty program – its completely besides the point to get into the details (which you may read here, in her original post), but what interested me was the presence of 2 comments which were posted anonymously. Guess what? Both were pro-Qantas!

Why does anyone want to hide behind the veil of anonymity when they’re defending the brand being ranted about? Wouldn’t it be far more credible if you argue with a real name?

Interestingly, in this case, Laurel calls out the 2nd anonymous poster as a flunky from Saatchi, who handle PR for Qantas. If its indeed a person from Saatchi…wow! That’s epic fail, friends from Saatchi!

The easiest response would have been to simply disclose yourself – from Qantas’ communications team/ Saatchi PR, and do something slightly more constructive about Laurel’s post. I do understand that Qantas could have had some monetary loss in this story (guessing!), so even if they’d simply said, ‘We’re sorry about this loyalty points transfer mess. We’ll deal with it better next time, we promise’…that would have been considerably better and face-saving than these silly, immature anonymous comments!

Its baffling, but! To see people hiding behind anonymous comments even today – I mean, this was one opportunity for Qantas to close the loop gracefully on a negative story and they had to choose the worst possible mode of retaliation!

I was discussing social media engagement with a prospective client (nah, this one’s not happening, I know it – instinctively!) yesterday and they told me that their rather conservative senior management just would not be bold enough to ‘risk’ getting into social media. Risk? The risk of negative comments/ stories, I was explained.

Hmmm…with PR in conventional media, we (as in Text 100 and other PR firms) have a predominantly controlled flow of client messages and the target journalists too adhere to journalistic ethics so that they cover all perspectives when doing a negative story. So, given the fact that social media content creators do not adhere to any journalistic ethics, they can write whatever they want – ideally. Is that the reason for the fear of ‘risk’? Yes, it was, according to that prospective client.

My response was obvious, any social media enthusiast would have said the same thing.

Social media is fraught with ‘risk’ of negative comments/ coverage, but this is the only mode of communication that allows the client (brand?) to put forth his/ her/ its point of view in a sane, smart and graceful manner and close the loop. So, future references to that piece will be done with your comment in tow. Is that better? Or is reading a negative story in the online edition of a print publication? Heck…smart brands will ideally make use of such opportunities to get back at their detractors by making the comment really interesting and balanced. Is that so difficult to comprehend?

Photo courtesy: Laughing Squid via Flickr

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