Transparency, Authenticity and Trust
aka lies not so well disguised…
I’m unhappy. Seriously so. I have had about enough of spin and deception in the blogosphere. Fake blogs, pay-for-play, astroturfing, lies about your products, the lot of it. And it’s gotten to the point where the FTC is weighing in. Unbelievable.
How close are we to destroying consumers trust in our “social media” outreach efforts? What about our clients trust in us to help protect and enhance their brand? How’s that working out for Sony, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart?
We talk a good game, sure. Be transparent. Be authentic. Listen. Engage in a conversation. But as soon as push comes to shove too many take the easy way out. Why reach out to the community when you can just pretend to be the community? And when called out on it? Rewrite history. It’s even gotten to the point where public announcements can be made that appear to be easily contradicted by fact.
Do we think no one will notice? That there won’t be a backlash? Do we care that we may end up destroying the very channels of communication we should be trying to open, let alone our credibility as communicators?
It has to stop. It almost makes me long for the days when all we had to worry about was the CTR on a 468×60 (almost).
Update: For a look at real transparency – The Quitter
Update II: When all else fails, there’s always the “Fake Blog Apology Service” courtesy of Adrants
Update III [12/15/06 1:40pm EST]: Whereby we take a closer look at how some flacks really engage in “social” media…
In a nutshell, the link above to iStudio, a division of High Road Communications/ Fleishman Hilliard, is supposed to have a comment attached to the post from yours truly. I have been trying for the last week to find out how their SNR, coded in framesets, is search engine friendly as they claim. Unfortunately it looks like iStudio has no plan on correcting the record or allowing a challenge to their claims. Now, before you say “but maybe it takes time for comments to be released from moderation” – here’s the screenshot of someone from the admin moderation screen visiting my site less than an hour after I posted the comment yesterday.
At the time of this post my comment is still in moderation.
What was it I was trying to point out and get some kind of an answer to after waiting almost a week for a response from their tech team?
Hi all, I don’t want to take any thunder out of your efforts, as I support the goals of the SNR and believe it is great way to aggregate and disseminate information broadly. However, after our last discussion I’m still not convinced that this release meets the objectives stated, or, as this post claims, the SNR criteria for indexing by search engines (SNR point #4) at this stage in its development.
Frankly, I don’t see how a release built in a frameset could be considered search engine friendly given the consensus advice around using frames. One of the great things about the internet is that our work can evolve in real time. There’s nothing wrong with launching a product that doesn’t yet meet 100% of the requirements – in fact, ‘beta’ is all the rage with the Web 2.0 crowd. However, I really think that your audience, potential users, and supporters deserve a clear explanation of how exactly your SNR tool does or will live up to all the promises.
This to me, seems pretty serious, as iStudio has proclaimed their release adheres to the accepted guidelines developed by their industry peers, yet I am certain that the coding is not up to par for Rule #4 – search engine indexing. At this point I’d really like to hear from the Social Media Club who developed & maintain the guidelines for the SNR. Do they feel that the iStudio/Weblo release complies? Or how about someone from Fleishman Hilliard – are these the standard practices of your divisions?
Man, no wonder PR has such a bad rep in the blogosphere – they’ve earned every bit of it.
The worst part of this issue in my opinion is how it was handled, not the coding itself. I started out being a supporter. It would have been really easy to admit the release wasn’t optimized, thank me for the tip, correct the record, and move on. Instead the spin starts and now we have this: a company silencing criticism on their blog and allowing claims that have been challenged on the facts to stand and be promoted.
The future’s so bright I’ve gotta wear shades.
Update IV: My comment has now been released from moderation on the iStudio site.
[photo credit: yewenyi on Flickr]