Yesterday a Google+ engineer mistakenly hit the wrong buttons on his keyboard in a message that was meant for Google staff ended up being posted to his Google+ page (Check out the full post here). I don’t know about you but there have been times when I have typed a response on email to something I didn’t like but after the initial vent I have deleted the email and approached the person directly. Phew! (By the way come and say hello on my google+ page).
Here are 5 PR lessons I think we can all learn out of this:
Lesson #1: Electronic communication sucks as a communication channel. Period.
Electronic communication such as email and SMS are not the broadcast mediums to have a difficult conversation on. You lose all and any nuance of connection and emotion of empathy in any digital exchange. If you have a challenging email, don’t email back, have a real live conversation. From a company perspective they now have an internal communications and PR issue. The engineers views are out in the big wide world now. Google needs to meet with this engineer and quickly communicate with their staff and let them know its okay to view your thoughts as long as its objective and solution orientated.
Lesson #2: Everything you write at work should be considered as if your were writing it for the front page of the newspaper
I wonder if the engineer would of wrote with such honesty and emotion if he knew the world’s biggest tech website would pick it up and rebroadcast it around the world. Every written piece of communication you write should be considered ready for printing in the media. How would knowing this change the way you communicate to your employees or work colleagues?
Lesson #3: Good news travels fast. Bad news travels at the speed of light.
Imagine if that engineer had moderated his language and been constructive on the solution side of the issue. No one would of published what he wrote. But because he was scathing and highly emotive the ‘bad news’ travelled faster than the speed of light around the world lowering Google’s reputation. This Engineers rant and other recent news about the massive drop in usage of google+ is bad news for the reputation of google.
Lesson #4: When the media comes knocking talk to them.
Google could have responded when the media came calling, but they didn’t. If I were the PR team at google here is what I would have done. I would of got the employee to talk to the management to express his views honestly and openly without fear of any retribution, I would get this engineer to help solve the problems he thinks are out there. Then I would have a statement on standby where they can say that this engineer has talked to the senior managers, expressed his views, they have listened and are now working together to make improvements to google+.
Lesson #5: Your personal reputation and brand will take a huge hit.
This Engineer has come and out and apologised but his personal reputation and brand has taken a hit. If you were a future employer would you employ a guy that would rant off to your whole staff?
What would you of done? Have you ever been heard of a situation like this? Comment below.