A couple of days ago, Chrysler faced a crisis of sorts after a tweet that contained an f-bomb jeopardized its goodwill (for background on this, check out Did Chrysler Overreact?)
Immediately I thought of the risks and strategies associated with social media, and I remembered a conversation I had with Bernard Gauthier, CEO of Delta Media, who was speaking at a career panel on career planning advice.
I had the opportunity to ask him an important question:
“With the evolution of PR in the face of Social Media, audiences and customers are able to engage not only with their brands, but with fellow consumers. This gives consumers more clout. How is Delta Media thinking about this? What are your thoughts and how are you employing social media?”
In honesty, there is more information of value.
Mr. Gauthier’s response was very candid and honest. I always think that’s the best form of PR, but his comments were revealing.
Mr. Gauthier said that in the past two years social media has gone to great heights, specially where PR is concerned. It is not a fix-all, however, and there are a lot of risks involved in using technologies such as Facebook and Twitter. My thoughts on this is of course, sometimes it is not economical to get into social media. Is it effective as far as a particular business is concerned? Is it needed, or will money and time be needlessly spent on channels that may yield less than proportionate results. Many times it IS about the bottom line.
And in the case of Chrysler, we readily saw that there is a risk, which demonstrates that the system of outsourcing strategies is still in its infancy as far as standard operating procedures are concerned.
Mr. Gauthier asserts that strategy is key. Is it feasible to get into social media? When it is feasible, how can it be employed best? My thoughts are that social media can be used as a sales channel, customer service, or simply to build goodwill.
Young PR Pros: Take the Reins
More often than not, Mr. Gauthier expressed, when companies get involved in social media, it is because of the younger members in the company. It is often the young blood that says, “we need to get on this.”
But the Chrysler study also revealed that there is more to be said about the risks getting involved in social media. I assume that most social media strategies involve, to a large extent, young PR pros with a wide creative latitude.
These are some things that we should be thinking about as PR pros and students. How does an f-bomb suddenly get dropped in on a tweet, and what does this say about the us? Do the consequences get diluted when you are behind a monitor? What does it say about myself, who is very keen on social media?