Archive for the ‘bad communications’ Category

Tony Robbins misquotes Gandhi, ignores the error and keeps on Tweeting

May 3, 2012

Not long ago I offered advice on dealing with social media mistakes.  Then I happened across this Tweet from Tony Robbins:

If you are one of the most famous speakers in the world,  it is probably a good idea to quote Gandhi.  Except this quote most likely isn’t from Gandhi.  In fact it first appeared in the book “Documentary History of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America” on page 53:

First they ignore you.  Then they ridicule you.  And then they attack you and want to burn you.  And then they build monuments to you.

Whoopsie.  So I did Mr. Robbins a favor and told him about his error (with my added commentary):

First reply to Tony Robbins on Twitter

And then this a day later:

I have sent Mr. Robbins several Tweets about this. So far he hasn’t responded. (Some of his followers are responding to me, however, asking about the source of the quote.)

To review, we have at least three social media faux pas, and one assumed one:

(1) Misquote one of the most influential people who ever lived (not so bad, because everyone makes mistakes.)

(2) Ignore people who identify the error (much bigger mistake.)

(3) Carry on without acknowledging or correcting the error (much, much bigger mistake.)

And the assumed fourth faux pas:

(4) Outsource your social media without understanding what you are trying to achieve (humongous mistake.)

In the grand scheme of things, I guess misquoting Gandhi isn’t going to harm his reputation.  But what happens when he, or his staff, sends an unintentionally controversial Tweet?  He will be held accountable, even if he didn’t actually say it!  This could harm his credibility and cost him money.

We can learn a lot from this episode:

(1) If you outsource your social media, you should trust the person speaking on your behalf.

(2) Periodically review your content to ensure consistency.

(3) If someone contacts you on social media, especially about a mistake, respond to them.

(4) If you make a mistake, own up to it.

(5) Nobody is immune in this social age, including Tony Robbins.  Even Bank of America had to back down because of Twitter.  Seriously.

(6) Think hard about using social media or you run the risk of harming your reputation.

(7) People are paying attention to what you say, a necessary consequence of being on social media.

As a side note: if I am wrong and Gandhi did say this, I will acknowledge my error, publicly apologize to Mr. Robbins and my social media community.  Until then, I’m still waiting.  And Tweeting.

PS:  In my initial Tweet to Mr. Robbins I wrongly stated the year was 1914.  The correct year is 1918.  Sorry about that, I will try to be more careful next time.

PPS:  See how that works?

Don’t Do This on Twitter, Part Duh

February 1, 2012

(Note: I was going to call this Part Deux, but this one takes The Duh cake.  Mmmmm, cake.)

So my significant other and I went to a local bar/restaurant to watch the 49ers game, she being a San Francisco native.  In the middle of the game they switched bartenders.

Unbelievably, this new fellow ignored us:  he did not ask us if we wanted anything, never refilled our water glasses (!!!) and completely disregarded us for over an hour.   We had never seen, or heard, of anything like this. Rightfully furious, the Sig Oth Tweeted her disappointment, saying:

Bar X then favorited that Tweet.

Yup, you read that right:  this bar decided that her criticism, broadcast to over 100 million active Tweeters, is one of their favorite things.

Wow.  It is not every day that I find myself with a loss of words.  This is one of those days.

What can you do if you get criticized on any social media site?  For starters, here is what you should not do:

(1) DO NOT FAVORITE THAT CRITICISM.  

(2) DO NOT DELETE THE COMMENT. (Some tools, like Yelp, do not allow you to delete criticism anyway.)  If you can delete the comment and do so, you are sending the message that you do not care. And you are missing an opportunity to improve your brand.

(3) DO NOT IGNORE THE PERSON WHO IS CRITICIZING YOU.  Ignoring the comment implicitly validates the criticism.

What should you do?

Engage that person in a conversation!  For instance, you can reply with, “I am sorry you feel we did not provide 100% customer service.  What can we do to make things right?”  and/or “Please call us so we can talk about this.”

Remember: social media is not really marketing.  Rather, it is a conversation:  a place to listen, manage your reputation, connect with people worldwide about myriad topics and turn criticism into an opportunity to improve your business and enhance your brand.

So if you are facing a social media challenge, don’t ignore it.  While you’re at it, don’t brag about it either.

More Social Media Abuse

November 22, 2010

Recently I launched a new website/company, SynergiSocial, focusing on social media training for people who have never used social media before.  Apparently I need to expand my scope of services to experienced technical people who can’t keep their e-traps shut.

First there is this gem about a guy trashes the city of Memphis on Twitter while visiting FedEx which is located there.  This condescending Tweet could have cost Ketchum a multi-million dollar contract.  Then I came across this post describing how, after accepting a job at Cisco, some guy Tweeted that he hated the job before even starting.

Folks, social media is not about you; it’s about everyone else who reads what you put out there, which is why it’s called social media and not me me me me media.  I previously wrote a blog post about topics people should generally avoid posting to Facebook and Twitter.  I didn’t think I had to say this but apparently I do:  in addition to the other things I listed in the earlier blog post, DON’T trash your employers, employees, clients, enemies or friends on social media.  The Internet has a long and unforgiving history, and these postings will probably end up biting you at some point down the line.   This is especially true in a terrible economy.

So please be careful when using your social media.  A good rule of thumb is to use your outside voice:  if you wouldn’t say something in polite company or at a dinner party, why would you put it on the Internet for the whole world to see?

Here We Go Again — More Hype From Apple

November 15, 2010

Today I discovered that  tomorrow will be a day I will never forget.  Like, ever.  How could I possibly know that I will never forget tomorrow when tomorrow isn’t even today yet?  Because Steve Jobs told me so!

Clearly, Apple has not learned anything about overhyping their stuff:  the iPad was mockingly compared to the Ten Commandments (no, seriously), the iPhone4 turned into an iFail before it was discovered to have problems, er, making phone calls, and so forth.

I can’t believe I have to tell this to an adult, but here it goes.

Dearest Steve Jobs: have you ever read The Boy Who Cried Wolf?  Yes?  Well, re-read it on your iPad or whatever.  You are that boy, and I don’t care about your wolves.   Your announcements do not resonate with me forever, other than in mockery or contempt.  Additionally, I don’t like being told about things I’m supposed to remember by anybody, much less some corporate brand.

I’ve had many experiences which I will never forget.  There was the time I was nearly run over by a giant pig.  (No, seriously.)  I remember the first time I set foot on African soil.  And there are far more personal memories which I will not share on this blog.  Of all my memories, both good and bad, none of them involved Apple or any kind of corporate announcement. Like, ever.

So ease off the rhetoric a little, yeah?  You’re starting to give me a rash.

Are Facebook Statuses Driving You Crazy?

October 13, 2010

Facebook has emerged as one of the most, if not the most, popular social media websites in the world.  Five-hundred-million people — nearly one in 14 people on Earth —  has a Facebook account.

Sadly, a good portion of these five-hundred-million folks think the best way to utilize the site is by telling everyone what they are eating for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks, and between-snack snacks, every single day.  Others describe, in painstaking detail, each and every show they watched, are watching and/or are planning to watch, and provide in-depth commentary about each and every one of them.  Perhaps the worst updates are those which publicly lament their lack of love in their lives and plead to the Universe that they find The One as soon as possible or the world will surely end!  (see picture below.)

 

 

 

(Image shamelessly lifted from this website)

Although I appreciate the need to connect with others in this cruel and lonely world, doing so in this manner devalues the perpetrator’s Facebook value, leading others (including me) to hide their status updates, or even de-friend you, just to make it stop.

In my opinion, the only reason someone should reveal this level of detail is if people really want to know what you are doing and are willing to pay for it, such as a celebrity (like Aston Kutcher) or a lifestyle guru (like Martha Stewart) where people are indeed very interested in their lives.

Don’t get me wrong:  the status bar is a very powerful tool which can be used in multiple ways.  Some of the best items to post are funny anecdotes or Youtube clips.  Posting pictures and stories while on vacation are a great way to connect with folks.  And if you are a business owner, such as a Realtor, Facebook can be used to post your listings and projects in progress.   In fact, some of my friends are accomplished artists who use Facebook to tell people about their upcoming exhibitions; they even post pictures of their art on their walls for people to preview.  Even the occasional post about your upcoming social plans can be very useful.

So how do you know when something is worth posting?   Keep this one rule in mind:  Facebook status updates are most effective when they are not for your consumption, but for those who are reading your updates.  If you wouldn’t say something out loud at a dinner party, why would you broadcast it to everyone you know?

So please folks:  unless you are a mega-celebrity, please ease off the updates about every detail of your life.

And for the love of all that is holy:  no, I am not going to give you corn seeds for Farmville or whack your enemy on Mob Wars.  So stop asking.

Fail Davison

September 10, 2010

Yesterday I wrote about Phil Davison, Republican candidate for Stark County, OH Treasurer.  In spite of his passionately delivered speech, the Ohio Republicans did not give him the nod to run for County Treasurer.  That’s not terribly surprising; screaming like a recalcitrant 12-year old does not exactly establish credibility, much less mental stability.

What can we learn from Mr. Davison?

  1. Passion is good.
  2. Too much passion is bad.
  3. Waaaay too much passion scares the bejeebus out of most ordinary folks and kills your credibility.
  4. Screaming and ranting does not convey passion, but poor judgment and even worse leadership skills.
  5. Toastmasters is a great place to practice speechcraft and get honest feedback on speeches.  (After learning his speech had gone viral, he commented, “It was strange.  Feedback would have been nice. I really don’t know how it was received [Emphasis mine].”  Ya think?)

PS:  This may be the first time a video went viral where the subject of the video had never used Youtube.

Someone needs Toastmasters, badly

September 9, 2010

This is not a partisan blog, but rather a communications blog.  Although I am a proud Democrat, I bash Democrats and Republicans equally for their communication blunders.

Having said that, I present to you Phil Davison who is running for Treasurer of the Stark County GOP in Ohio.  As President of my local Toastmasters Club (which happens to also be the first Toastmasters club in the world) I would like to offer some feedback on Mr. Davison’s speech.

On the plus side, he is passionate.  He looks like he is ready to take on this job and will do what it takes to secure the position.  And he has the credentials and experience to get the job done.  Sometimes it takes anger and passion to do something right.

But he definitely goes over the top here.  According to him, he has a Masters in CommUnication!  I didn’t add that exclamation point or the italicized U by accident.  That’s how he says it, with increasing fury as he rattles off each degree he’s earned:  “… and a Masters Degree in CommUnication!”  Really?

His shoulders are tense and he paces back and forth, as if he’s ready to pop a blood vessel.  And he scowls throughout the speech, as if the audience made him eat rotten lemons and wash it down with spoiled milk.  These attributes will not endear him to many people.

Sadly, at about 1:25 into the speech, things really take off.  Now I understand he is upset with the Stark County Treasury, but screaming at the top of his lungs with a cracking voice is not an appropriate way to express such outrage.  For instance, watch the video at 2:10, where he says the office “is in dire need of structure>squeak< and guidance.”  And, he keeps referring to his notes for everything; he really should have rehearsed his speech better.

In sum, I’d recommend he – and all of you, by the way – join Toastmasters, which is a safe environment to practice leadership and communication skills.  I’ve been a Toastmaster for over a year, and even though I also have a Masters in Communication, I have significantly improved my communication and leadership skills since joining.

Perhaps Toastmasters could help Mr. Davison communicate better as well.  If not, maybe someone could recommend a good doctor who could prescribe Xanax.

UPDATE — I incorrectly spelled Phil’s last name Davidson and changed it to the correct spelling, Davison.  Sorry for the blunder.

Morrissey is a Stupid Racist

September 6, 2010

Sometimes I don’t get people.

Morrissey, the front-man from The Smiths, called all Chinese people a “subspecies” because of how some Chinese people treat animals.  This is colossally stupid on several levels.  Let’s break these down, shall we?

  • From a logical standpoint, his statement makes no sense:  by calling Chinese people a subspecies, he is actually being cruel to them, thus undercutting his whole, er, logic.
  • From a human perspective, he has just called attention to the fact that he’s a racist pig.
  • From a nationalistic standpoint, China is not the only country that is cruel to animals.  Do Spanish bullfights make Spaniards a subspecies too?
  • From a business point of view, it’s probably not a great idea to insult 1/6th of the world’s population — and the world’s second largest economy — in one swoop.  This cannot be good for sales.
  • From a communication standpoint, it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and one sentence to undo all that work, especially in this day and age.  Great job doing that.

Granted, I have a special affection for the Chinese people, having studied Mandarin in Shanghai.  In my experience, certainly some people in China are cruel to animals.  But there are just as many, if not more, Chinese people who deplore animal cruelty. (Ahem.)  Also, in my experience, there are plenty of racist and stupid Westerners, such as Morrissey; but that does not mean all Westerners are stupid racists.  See how that works?

So here’s some free, unsolicited advice for Morrissey:  think about what you are saying before you say it.  By smearing an entire nationality, you are making a huge mistake on multiple levels.  Then again, racists have never been known for their intellect, now have they?

More Communication Dissonance from Democrats

August 20, 2010

Oh Howard Dean, where would we be without you and your mighty scream?

The good former Vermont Governor recently weighed in on the lower-Manhattan community center nontroversy by stating his desire to see the location moved.  This, combined with Harry Reid’s announcement the other day, serves only to create further communication discord within the party. Once again, Dems are giving the (correct) impression that they are not on the same page.  This does not settle well with voters, because they want to know what each political party stands for, and if Dems speak for ten different things, why should anyone want to vote for them?

Contrast the Democrats’ messaging vs. the GOP’s.  The Republicans clearly stated the Ground Zero Mosque (it’s not true, but it sure is catchy) should not be there, period.  Dems are all over the map on the issue and are, once again, harming their own credibility by not communicating consistently.

Once again:  Please Dems, try communicating consistently.  You don’t have to agree with every issue every time, but like it or not, this has captured the world’s headlines and is therefore a major issue.  Please oh please, just once, try to stay on the same page, at least with the big items like this one?  Please?

Shocking News — Democrats Don’t Communicate Well

August 16, 2010

I’ve been pretty busy lately and had to take a brief hiatus from blogging.  But now I’m back, and evidently I picked a great day to start up again.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” being built a few blocks away from the World Trade Center site.  I’m not going to discuss my position on the building, but rather the Democrats’ painfully inconsistent and incoherent messaging surrounding this hot-button issue.

To make a long story short, President Obama recently stated that he supports the building of the Islamic Community Center (it’s not actually a Mosque, but rather a YMCA-type building) in spite of the fact that a majority don’t want it built there.  Obama took a huge political risk in bucking majority opinion, but that’s not really the issue here.

The issue is that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) came out today to voice opposition to the building, demonstrating once again that Democrats are painfully inconsistent with their messaging and their decision-making.

Oh Democrats, Democrats, Democrats.  For once, would you please take a position and stick with it?  I know if you get five Democrats in a room you’ll end up with about 15 different opinions, but when two leaders from the same political party take opposing views on an unpopular issue, that does not help you.  It leaves voters scratching their heads, wondering who — or rather, what — they are voting for.

It’s really not that hard folks:  if you take a principled but unpopular stand about an issue, people will respect you.  If you are divided and don’t stand for something consistently, it tarnishes your brand and confuses people.

So please, please oh pretty please, try to communicate consistently for once.  Just once?  Please?  You’re killing me here!