Friday, July 06, 2007

A Response to the Paper 

My colleague, Peter Shinbach, had this response to the paper on Internet Mobs that was posted here earlier this week.

I don't think you went far enough after stating, "Thus, practitioners have little choice but to stop a mob fast,-..." Specifically, I'm thinking of the bike lock issue ... An ad hoc Internet mob sprung up to castigate the lock's maker which, not unexpectedly, was mute on the issue. Eventually, one of the PR bloggers thought to contact the lock maker's PR person who said they were aware of the criticism being heaped on them but, as a corporation, it took a while for them to assess the problem, determine the options to address the problem, select the best option to implement, announce their decision and finally to implement the solution. All of this took time..... time during which the mob continued to run amuck and during which the bike lock maker lost business. Yes, this isn't a situation limited to PR. It's germain to the corporate mindset of conservative evaluation, study and execution: a mindset that is anathema to Internet mobs.

Pete is right, of course. It is a corporate issue of the highest priority, but it is also one in which PR should take the lead in spotting the formation of a mob and responding to the mob quickly before it gets out of control as it did in the Kryptonite lock case.

Update: Peter responded again with a comment on the posting above:

Taking the lead in spotting the formation of a mob smacks of
traditional, reactive PR (i.e., it won't get you to the proverbial
"table."). Furthermore, identifying the existence of the newly
formed mob still leaves the corporation with all those steps
Kryptonite went through before belatedly responding to the situation.
Wouldn't it be better for PR to take the lead in developing a means
to (1) identify the formation of the mob as it's forming, (2)
determining the potential threat that mob poses and (most
importantly) swiftly respond to the threatening mob? Just as PR
doesn't wait until the crisis to figure out how to respond, it
shouldn't wait until an Internet mob is pounding down the gates
before calling an interdepartmental meeting to figure out what to
do. It should already have the plan in place and be ready to execute
that plan.

I agree with these points but, it seems to me, they are implied in the paper. On the other hand, they should have been explicit.


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