Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
*peeps out from behind curtain* Is it safe to come out yet?
Well, as *ahem* a couple of people may be aware, yesterday I published a complaint letter I’d sent to Mission PR regarding how they had mishandled a Nokia campaign they’d asked me to blog about (whereby I was asked to run a half marathon, then pretty much ignored until three days before the race). My aim in doing that was to start a conversation so bloggers and PRs can communicate better and bloggers (and the work we put in) are actually taken seriously.
What began as me wanting to start a conversation turned into nothing less than a shit storm. The post spread across Twitter and the interweb like wildfire. Friends who work at PR agencies were emailing me to say the post was making the rounds in their offices as a kind of ‘How NOT to Treat Bloggers’ cautionary tale. Messages and tweets of support poured in. I could barely keep up with the response.
Within hours, both the MD of Mission PR and Head of Communications for Nokia had personally called me. And to their enormous credit, both agencies took responsibility. They didn’t try to make excuses. They apologised, they listened, they were adamant about learning from this experience going forward. It takes a lot for people to admit they’re wrong and I give both Nicola Stephenson of Mission and Anna Shipley of Nokia great credit for reaching out to me on what must have been a very difficult day for both agencies. It was agreed that my travel and accommodation costs would be covered immediately.
I’d like to point out something that I think was greatly overlooked yesterday. I sent that letter to Mission last Thursday and the Head of Digital did call and apologise to me at that time. I made the decision to go ahead and publish my letter of complaint on my blog because I felt the apology came as too little too late. But they didn’t wait until after I’d published to apologise to me. For me, it was also about much more than Mission. This is happening to bloggers all over and I feel as though the attitude of these big companies is ‘they’re just a blogger.’ They don’t consider that there may be repercussions for acting poorly. There’s a certain attitude that it doesn’t matter because they’re a big company and we’re just the little fish.
It occurred to me that I’d probably been approached in the first place as it was understood that I may have a certain level of online influence. In making the decision to publish the letter and name the companies involved, I think we now know what online influence can do.
That blog post has had over 15,500 hits so far.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive – though I’m sure my face is on a few dart boards in PR offices right now. I had a couple of negative comments about how I agreed to do this for freebies, they didn’t come through and I should stop crying about it. For anyone who has read my blog post about the actual half marathon itself, it’s clear that this was about much more than freebies or monetary gain for me. This was truly a life changing experience. It’s about so much more than a free phone, or sports kits or hits on my site. In fact, it’s not about that at all. It’s about how you treat people and the handling of a campaign. As I said to Anna Shipley of Nokia, there was a real opportunity here for this project to be so great and the reach to be so much wider than it was, if it was handled properly. When I think of how this whole experience has changed me and how many people have told me they’ve been inspired by my journey, it saddens me that I wasn’t given the opportunity or resources by Nokia and Mission to spread that word further, inspire more.
The decision to publish the letter was not one I took lightly. I wrestled with it for days. Had I not done that, the half-baked apology I received beforehand would probably have been seen as enough and perhaps Mission and other agencies would continue to believe that’s an acceptable way to treat a blogger (or, you know, a human). At least now, both Mission and Nokia are taking a serious look at what went wrong and other agencies are looking at how they handle blogger outreach.
So, is there anyone out there still questioning the power of bloggers? *gives Andrew Marr a death stare*