Bloggers affect public image of companies – and smart ones know to identify and respond to issues raised by this independent media source. The effect of bloggers doesn’t end in image only, but also harm stock price, as Engadget false report on iPhone release dates showed the market.
However, smart management of these situation can not only fix damage done, but also improve company’s public image.
Readers of my blog know that sometimes I politely bash companies. That was the case of NewTek, the creator of TriCaster, that I’ve covered in this post. The main issue that I’ve raised was their lack of responsiveness to synchronis.tv, a company that used its product to push the envelope of online drama.
Several hours after publishing the post, their CEO and President, Jim Plant left a comment thanking for the post and asking who was trying to reach them. I’ve asked Andrew from synchronis.tv to touch base with Jim, and they’ve done so through the comments section, and later I’ve introduced them to one another via mail (based on the email address provided in the comment Jim left me). Not only that, the company later sent Philip Nelson, VP of Strategic Development, for a meeting with Andrew Lipson, and for a related panel in IMTC event.
Not only that NewTek improved their image in the community, they also gained some publicity and reach to new market segments – only because they were responsive to what was written about them – in a timely fashion.
So what are the most important points for companies in dealing with bloggers who bash them?
1. Time– responding in a timely fashion to posts is a crucial part of communicating with bloggers. This requires an ongoing monitoring of blogsphere by companies and their marketing departments.
2. Comments – though companies can contact bloggers directly, comments are visible to all readers. That way, even if a company doesn’t persuade the blogger that his bashing is wrong, at least the readers would see additional point of view on the topic.
3. Top management involvement – getting top management to comment directly on blogs provide additional benefits – especially when the company is bashed. Just like a press conference, when a senior level official presents company views, readers see that the company sees a topic as important.
4. Use real email addresses in comments – yes, I know, sounds strange, but the fact that I had the direct connection to Jim made things much easier, and raised NewTek’s credibility.