I’ll break down the essence of this little PR spectacle for those of you that happened to miss out on it:
After fixing the problem Matt apologized publicly via social sharing platform Reddit, explaining how this could happen and delivering his very own form of “reconciliation”.
Because he reacted in such a unique and authentic way, he gained broad acceptance and understanding from the online community, compensating for his error and winning some big sympathy points for himself and his employer, Facebook.
So, here are a couple of ideas on what worked well for Matt and how Bloggers can implement that within their own PR-routine:
1. The early bird catches the criticism
If you mess something up with your blog, like getting important facts wrong or accidentally posting content that may be offensive to some people: React to it – fast.
Don’t just delete it and huddle down, waiting for the storm to pass. Write a quick statement, explaining how this could have happened and ensure your readers that something like that won’t happen again.
You can even engage in discourse – why not profit from your own mistake? Show your readers that you value their opinion and create a flow of comments.
Think about adding a feedback form to your blog, that way your users have an easy way of getting in touch and help you optimize your content/site.
2. Sympathy for the devil
Remember: It wasn’t “your Blog” who messed up some issue – it was either you or some writer currently active on your site. The thing is, readers will include every mishap or mistake under the flag of your page, if you don’t act right.
By giving the mistake a face, Matt was able to argue from a human point of view, telling his story and generally communicating: “Sorry guys, I messed this one up. Won’t happen again.”
Try to make it as transparent as possible, who publishes what on your site and make sure that all mistakes are perceived as human errors, not issues related to the quality of a given blog.
A solid step would be creating visible “About the author” boxes that really stand out and turn each article into a personal expression.
It could look a little something like this:
This way, if something controversial is posted, everyone knows : That’s the opinion of a single individual, not necessarily that of a page/blog/brand.
3. Play the game – be original when apologizing
Added to Matt’s explanatory message was an image of his dog, uploaded to the very platform he accidentally blocked when pursuing malicious URLs.
This was a very smart move, not only delivering something shareable to the core base of users dedicated to the blocked site – it was also a way of demonstrating his affinity towards the community and awareness of his own mistake.
He was able to diffuse the situation, by “not making a big deal about the big deal”, eventually throwing a good light on his employer and exiting the issue in a humble yet confident way.
React fast, own up to the mistake, apologize in an appropriate fashion and be aware of the online culture where the given content is spread – these are some tips I could derive from the facebook-imgur mishap. Have you ever been in tricky situations, where something on your blog had the potential of creating some negative buzz? Were you able to solve it in a satisfying manner?
I would love to read your story, feel free to contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dog picture credit: Matt Jones