First rule of online PR – What goes online stays online

Last night, we held another of one of our digital dinners. Sessions in which we invite clients and journalists for a bite to eat, a few glasses of wine and an informal discussion on the some of the latest trends within the social media and digital PR fields. Understandably given the adoption and amount of press coverage received by FacebookTwitter and more recently Foursquare, many in the room were well versed in the potential such networks can offer marketing and comms programs.

Personally for me, it was interesting to hear the views around the table about the different approaches being taken to integrating social media within crisis communications. After picking apart the bones of crises suffered by Eurostar and Toyota, the question arose about how much of a lasting impact do social media crisis really have on the customer psyche.

This is an interesting point for any PRs in charge of managing a client’s online reputation. In the days of print, the old adage was, ‘today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s fish and chips wrapper’. So what if a client has a barrage of negative comments on twitter one day? With the sheer overload of information that customers face, the chances are someone else’s crisis will come along tomorrow and your clients will be forgotten right? Well not quite. Unfortunately, the internet is very much like stag parties. What goes on there, stays there.

As far as online reputations are concerned, this means having to put out more of the good things your client does to outweigh the negatives. The bigger the crisis, the harder it is to foster a positive image over the long term.

That said, we all agreed sometimes an online crisis isn’t always the end of the world as when handled well, they can be transformed into trust building opportunities. The key however is handling them well in the first place.

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