Thursday, March 10, 2011

Did Chrysler F-up their F-Bomb?

Mistakes happen…in business and in our personal lives. Yesterday, Chrylser was presented with a sticky situation when an employee at one of their new media agencies tweeted the F-bomb on their @ChryslerAutos account. A few hours later the Big Three automaker announced the person at the agency, New Media Strategies, had been terminated. In the impersonal, big brother-like post, Chrysler apologizes and condemns “inappropriate language or behavior". A lot of people were turned off by this apology…just read the comments section. I’m curious if the employee was fired on a push from Chrysler or independently from a NMS executive.

It’s now being compared to a recent Red Cross incident, where an employee tweeted about going out and drinking some brews on the official Red Cross account, unfortunately assuming it was their personal Twitter account. She later confessed her inability to use Hootsuite correctly. The woman was not fired and the Red Cross cleverly, while not dismissing a mistake, used humor and even charitable methods to address the minor crisis.

I have mixed feelings about this recent incident and Chrysler’s reaction, which reminds me of the Domino's Pizza response from their president, Patrick Doyle (after a booger sandwich video from a local franchise became viral). Although he was undeniably impersonal in the video, at least Domino's used a human to represent their remorse. So far, I feel Chrysler’s reaction is typical of the company in general when it comes to using social networks and blogs. Let’s face it; they have not even jumped on the social bandwagon until recently. While Ford and GM have put together excellent social media and digital communications teams and campaigns in the last few years, Chrysler's been slow to come on board (perhaps spending most of their marketing budget on pricey TV ads). I do think if this incident happened with a Ford or GM Twitter account, we’d see the apology or response much more personable, if not clever and maybe even viral. And believe it or not, listening to and engaging with consumers online really does help automotive profits…ask Scott Monty or Christopher Barger.

Personally, I’m not offended by much online. I don’t care that someone at Red Cross likes to have a few beers or that a New Media Strategies employee uses the F word. I often think these social media crises are silly and a waste of a lot of people’s time and attention. But a lot of people do care, and just like traditional PR crises, social media crises (big or small) need to be addressed. A line should be drawn within organizations about appropriate online language, and even though social media allows for more transparency, honesty and humanistic behavior, employees should follow some guidelines when representing their company.

So what do you think? Would you have fired this employee? And what would you have done for a better apology and response? I’ll be interested in seeing how the agency reacts as well.

UPDATE: Chrysler has now terminated their account with New Media Strategies according to Chrysler also added an update to their blog this afternoon (using the Eminem TV ad as support of their dedication to Detroit and its people). So not surprisingly this comment sprung up: "You think Eminem is a positive face for the city of Detroit? Which one of his debilitating character flaws would you like to talk about? Drugs? Guns? Homophobia? Abuse and threats to kill his wife? Your audience can read an f-bomb, because they obviously listen to them."

Friday, March 4, 2011

“Heading to the Gym”: Dislike

I know a lot of people who do this: friends, family and even well-respected social media professionals. So, this will not sit comfortably with many of you. Regardless, this is for you:

Why do I give a crap that you are at the gym? That you just did 30 squats and 40 minutes of cardio? That you only consumed 1,000 calories today? I started seeing these daily workout and diet stats on Twitter a couple of years ago. Two years later the app businesses are thriving from all of you with hundreds of fitness apps that now appear regularly on FB too. COME ON! Ask yourself exactly what it is that made you think all of the world cares that you are at the gym spinning. What comments or feelings were you hoping to derive from your network? Is it a cry for a mate? I’m not single, and even if I was, I’d be sure to label you as an either arrogant or extremely desperate schmuck.

Okay, okay, I realize you might tell me you do it for different reasons than I'm debating. It could have nothing to do with the fact you're attention-starved announcing to all your Facebook friends how fit, determined and motivated you are.

Yes, there are a few valid benefits to fitness apps. Some people use them as an online motivational support system to complement or even replace personal training sessions. Or maybe it’s just the location awareness and you're hoping someone who saw your Foursquare post is at the same gym to erotically spot you during weight training. This sits better with me because there's a real purpose other than just bragging to me, and you might even go home lucky!

Perhaps you need more inspiration, motivation, or maybe just the Stuart Smalley feeling of being doggone liked. Well, there are other methods in the real world to endure these feelings without spamming my social world. Let’s see…real-life friends (those are the ones you can see and touch *in person*), therapy, family, antidepressants…all come to mind.

There’s an obvious wealth of benefits to fitness and exercise in general, that point is moot. I just don’t need to hear about yours! I’m not the only one here who feels you are annoying and even fitness types find you obnoxious. Why, there are even FB pages dedicated to the aversion of you.

Some of you may ask me why this should bother me as much as it does. Maybe I’m the one with insecurity issues. Okay, so you have a small point. I could have just read your “6-mile run and 1-hour weight resistance…GO ME!” tweet while I was snug on my couch after eating a big spaghetti meal. I may have felt a bit lethargic, full and even sloth-like. And then I see your tweet and feel slightly stagnant, slightly unmotivated, and overly bloated. Well, worry not, I will not bore you with my ‘call out for attention’ stat…I’ll just have some more spaghetti.

Photo from DeSales University

Monday, January 26, 2009

Intimidation from the Alleged “Social Media Expert”

Already this morning, I’ve read so many interesting and educational blogs. The social media guru population grows by outrageous #s every day…just as the debate grows of what actually depicts a social media “guru” or “expert”.

Recently I’ve read from some of the SM pros (that have been doing this for awhile now) complaining that social media “wannabes” are coming out of the cracks and tarnishing the reputation of those who are actually doing it right. I certainly agree with this to a point. Sure, there are those who don’t really get it, but think it’s a hip or cool trend they should be participating in. Or—even worse—those who believe it’s a quick, easy, and economical way to get rich and popular fast. Read 6 Dangerous Fallacies of Social Media if you believe that notion.

However, there are some of us out there, like myself, who actually do practice the original rules of the social media foundation. We listen, research, participate, share, engage and act as humanly possible to learn the evolving methods, tools, etiquette, and regulations of this bureaucracy. We may be newer to the field than some, but we take it very seriously and want to play the field respectfully, fairly and by the rules. As I start my social media consultancy, I know I don’t have to label myself as an expert, but a savvy PR professional with many years of both traditional and new media experience.

So before some of the so-called SM experts judge us newer to the industry, you may want to look, listen and learn whether we are real or phony.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The First Stab

Hopefully won't cut too hard. So, after several years of contemplating my own business, it's finally coming to fruition. Scary? Hell, yeah. But also exciting and liberating. I was laid off last summer from an online marketing agency, where I immersed myself in all things social media for our clients—a newer, fresher and different focus than my prior 13 years of traditional marketing and PR experience.

After months of job searching, interviewing, and even declining offers, I sit here planning my solo social media career. Fortunately (and unfortunately) I am not the only one doing this...particularly here in the Detroit area. With the Big Three downsizing every day, my unemployed marketing competition is huge--not just internal communications employees, but several small and big agency employees are being let go who were supporting the automakers in this area.

Oh, and by definition I am not solo. "We" are solo. My partner is the IT brains behind the company (who’s
building killer web apps to help social media implementation more efficient and simple). More to come soon!

In a nutshell, this blog will be the diary of our solo adventure.
Outlining the agenda, the business plan, the niche, potential clients and more importantly the successes and failures--there will no doubt be some of both. I hope it informs others of the tremendous possibilities that exist for small or solo businesses.

So, it makes perfect sense to introduce my business consultants and resources that got me here and will continue to guide me (and they don't even know it)! I am fortunate to have found bright and inspiring people both locally and worldwide in the social media space via blogs, Twitter,
Facebook, etc. There are a plethora of social media rock stars (this will be the last time I use this description because as it supposedly implies coolness, it only makes me cringe). The following people have indirectly led me to where I am now. I strongly suggest anyone who is starting out on their own (or not) to follow, listen and engage with these social media pioneers. I know I'm missing many other great minds, but for starters read these blogs and follow the writers on Twitter:

Two of my favorite local Social Media celebrities successfully representing Motown and

And finally a new blog that I think has much potential to guide us PR solo explorers

I'd LOVE to hear from anyone like me who is starting a digital communications business...even if you are or will be a future competitor...networking and the sharing of ideas are invaluable in this space. Hey, at this point, I'd love to hear from anyone period!

Coming soon:

  • The Midwest Social Media Group business plan
  • The pros and cons of starting your own business
  • Twitterer of the Week
  • Band (or song of the week)

I think the first stab @ this already feels good.