Digital Proof is Stronger Than a Verbal Statement…

I came across this post “ Be Careful What You Post”¬† by Peter Shankman on his blog talking about the dangers in posting your own opinions on a company blog. There was a specific situation where a Ketchum employee was blogging on Twitter on behalf of their client, which happened to be FedEx, and made some negative statements about the city of Memphis. He made these unpleasant remarks about Memphis just before he was about to make a presentation to a group of 150+ FedEx employees and an employee happened to find it. The whole “kicker” to the story is that the blogger did not know that a significant amount of FedEx employees are from Memphis and took it extremely personal and saw it as offensive. FedEx copied his letter and sent it to top Executives in both FedEx and Ketchum. FedEx responded to the Ketchum employee’s post and handled it well.

Fortunately, this lucky man did not lose his job. This should teach each and every PR practitioner a lesson! Be extremely careful what you post on the Internet. Not everything is confidential and also, know your client and the audience you are writing about. The Ketchum employee obviously did not know this about his client. Secondly, a written statement is much harder to retract than¬† a verbal one so beware what your put on the internet. Many of us don’t realize the severity of this type of offense and what repercussions it can have.

As we know, the Ketchum employee was not fired. In my opinion, he should have been fired due to the reaction from the FedEx employees. Company blogs should always be used in a professional manner rather with a purpose. Personal blogs are different, you are representing yourself, and someone else’s reputation is not at stake. If you were the President of FedEx, how would you have handled this situation? Would you have fired the Ketchum employee why or why not?

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5 Responses to Digital Proof is Stronger Than a Verbal Statement…

  1. drgilpin says:

    Nice post: timely, right level of detail, some thought clearly put into your own opinion. (I think firing would have been a little too harsh, but a case can certainly be made for it.)

  2. mlmyers says:

    I think it is also important to mention that not only information you post on a company blog can lead to being terminated or negative feelings, but also any information you post about yourself online. “To friend or not to friend” was a blog posted by Len Gutman on the Valley PR Blog that discussed the issue many professionals have about Facebook and determining if it should be used for personal or business relationships. It mentions that while it may be important to make yourself seem human and reachable to other professionals, having your latest party pictures may not be the best route. I just think that being a professional (almost anyway), especially in a field with so much social media, that we have to think extra hard about the information we want to make public.

  3. elwhite2 says:

    I do agree that firing would have been quite harsh, however that’s what a couple people who commented on Peter Shankman’s blog suggested. I guess they saw this as extremely unprofessional. I would agree with the unprofessionalism aspect however I would not go as far as firing them.

  4. elwhite2 says:

    Good point mlmyers! I think you need to keep all your social media accounts professional. When you enter the work force its your responsibility to remain professional at all times and you need to hold yourself accountable for everything you put out there.

  5. maxlawrencehollister says:

    I agree that company blogs should be professional, but to say that someone should lose their job over a mistake is a bit harsh. What he said was his opinion and yes he should of kept it to himself, but all he said was that he wouldn’t want to live there. I say lighten up Memphis. It’s not like he said that everyone living there are stupid. I don’t think he should go unpunished though. A demotion or a suspension would suffice.

    You’re right about what you write down though. Everyone should be careful when putting themselves online for the world to see. One of the first places future employers go to find information about an employee candidate is Facebook and Myspace. If all you have are pictures of yourself getting drunk and acting a fool, then you’re not going to get the job.

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