Category

Social Media

Doug Muir, the Bella’s Boycott, and Black Lives Matter

By | Crisis Communications, Social Media | 3 Comments

A week ago, we attended Rooting Out Injustice, the signature fall event put on by Legal Aid Justice Center and Central Virginia Legal Aid Society. Full disclosure, I’ve been involved with Legal Aid for more than seven years and am on their advisory council. The event featured co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, Alicia Garza, who was a fantastic, inspirational speaker. The speaker panel, emceed by local attorney and author John Grisham (you may have heard of him) explored the intersection of race, injustice, disparities within the system, and ways the nonprofit organizations are tackling civil injustice.

In the midst of the event, a local business owner, Douglas Muir, saw fit to post a comment on Facebook stating, “Black lives matter is the biggest rasist (sic) organization since the clan. Are you kidding me. Disgusting!!”

14563316_10100436224216733_601572757490279367_n

Mr. Muir is the owner of Bella’s, an Italian restaurant in Charlottesville. He’s also listed as a guest lecturer at the University of Virginia.

What Mr. Muir obviously didn’t know is that the wrath of the offended via social media is swift and ruthless. There’s a hashtag #boycottbellas and there has been a peaceful demonstration. But that’s not the end of this. Doug Muir deleted his comment and is, no doubt, keeping a low profile while his employees suffer a lack of income (restaurant workers make their money mostly in tips. No customers = no income.)

I think this is an opportunity for all people — not just the people who attended the event, or who have heard and seen Mr. Muir’s comment and are aware of the boycott of Bella’s to go look at the http://blacklivesmatter.com/ page. Think about civil rights and a movement that didn’t just start last year, but has been going on since before Abraham Lincoln was president. This isn’t new. Racism isn’t new. Social media is, though, and how we use it can change minds and change our society.

UPDATE 10/12/2016:

The Cavalier Daily ran an apology from Douglas Muir about the comment. It’s a good apology.

What to do When Your Campaign Accidentally Goes Viral

By | Communications, Crisis Communications, Social Media | No Comments

There’s really nothing that can prepare you for that moment when you pick up your phone and/or  log in to Facebook and see 8,000 new messages. Just yesterday, you think, we were trying desperately to get 300 likes on our page!

It’s the stuff some companies dream of. It’s a nightmare for most.

The thing is, you’re not going to know when your campaign is going to take off like wildfire. You may be pretty sure you’re going to get some attention, but you don’t really think it’s going to be Snuggling Baby Goats attention.

It doesn’t matter — it’s still worth the time to do a little preparation — a bit like the conversations people are having about the nearly $2 billion Powerball jackpot and how they would spend the money if/when the win. (Buying baby goats!)

Know these four things:

  1. To whom you will turn to help manage the overwhelming number of messages across all channels. This must be a trusted, experienced individual. Do not throw your intern under this bus.
  2. To whom you will turn to increase production/meet demand, etc. How big could you scale, if necessary?
  3. If things go viral in a bad way (you mess up, a terrible review gets major attention, etc.) what will your apology say, and how will you make it right? Write that message now, leaving blanks to fill in later, of course,  long before you need it.
  4. What will be your strategy when people are mean, overenthusiastic, threatening, troll-like, etc? If it’s to turn the monitoring of comments over to the person identified here under number one, that’s OK. Shutting down and disappearing might feel like the right action in the short term, but don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. The flames will die down, a new viral story will emerge, and you don’t want to be in a position to build your audience from scratch. Hang in there.

And if it happens to you suddenly, and you have no idea what to do, and you don’t know any of the four things, just give me a call.

Baby Goat Snuggling Opportunity Goes Viral

By | Media, Social Media | No Comments

It’s not hard to see how this happened: Virginia goat cheese producer Caromont Farm advertised on its Facebook page a need for volunteers to snuggle baby goats. People responded in droves, eager to get some goat love, and the story, adorably enhanced with tiny cable-knit sweater wearing kids, got picked up everywhere, like Buzzfeed, and ABC News, The Washington Post and The Today Show; pretty much a media relations slam-dunk if I ever saw one, and not even what the little farm intended! No need to apply for goat snuggling this season, but the farm has scheduled a Goatapalooza for anyone who still needs their goaty fix.

We love the attention it’s getting, though because our client Cavalier Produce is a distributor of Caromont Farm cheeses, supplying local restaurants with it, and another client of ours uses goat’s milk for another purpose: Wynott Farm sells goat’s milk soap. Goats are getting their day, for sure!

UPDATE:

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that local NBC affiliate WVIR-TV NBC29 covered the story first, largely responsible for setting off the avalanche of media coverage. Also, it appears (as of January 14, 2016 at 2:00PM Eastern, that Caromont Farm has deleted or unpublished their Facebook page, a sad footnote on how small businesses are often unprepared for a big wave of attention.

Where to Host your Website

By | Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

My firm manages websites for a number of clients and for some, we set up the client’s very first website, allowing us to make the hosting decisions for them. In addition, I’ve set up several websites of my own, for personal use or for the firm itself. For all of these I’ve used DreamHost for hosting. I’ve used DreamHost, in fact, for 10 years now and the reason I’m writing this is to tell you that I have never had an issue with their hosting. Ever. In fact, any time there’s been an issue with a website (broken code, a bad plugin, etc.) and I couldn’t get it resolved on my own, the online chat customer service has gotten it taken care of within MINUTES. I had an issue with a bad plugin on an old site I was dealing with this morning and it was just six minutes later when DreamHost had it fixed for me.

They don’t pay me — I pay them! This is just an honest endorsement for a service that hasn’t let me down once in 10 years. If you’re fed up with your hosting service or starting a new website, I must encourage you to look at DreamHost. Totally worth it.

Three Important Things I Told University of Virginia Communications Students Today

By | Marketing, Media, Public Relations, Social Media | No Comments

My friend, media personality, and historian Coy Barefoot asked me to speak to his media class today at UVa. I love to teach and miss engaging with college students so I jumped at the chance. I used to teach public relations to college juniors and seniors who were communications majors at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri and I really loved that experience.

Today, the students had questions about how businesses and brands should be presenting themselves online, how media relations works today, now that social media is so prevalent, and what steps are important in crisis communications.

Three things I told them that I think bear repeating are these:

  1. If you want to be in communications, go buy the domain that is your name today, host it, install WordPress and, at a minimum, publish your resume. Maintain the domain.
  2. In a crisis, if you’re representing a brand, the first, most important step to take is an apology (even if you’re sorry that your community is experiencing this bad thing) and an expression of empathy.
  3. Pay attention to your personal brand; it can make you employable, valuable, and attractive. (Or the opposite of these, obviously. Manage it.)

For the student who showed up late to class and nodded off during — I bet she has a hard time finding a job when she graduates. Bet she never sees this post, either. D minus!