December 16, 2013
Ask Ronn Torossian, and he will tell you that reputation can be a terrific thing. When you are bringing in a special speaker, you want to make sure he, or she is not only qualified, but dynamic, and well respected. But it’s very important to consider the source giving you the referral. That, Torossian says, is a lesson one Texas high school principal recently learned the hard way.
In attempting to book an encouraging, and challenging speaker for a recent high school assembly about social issues such as teen dating, this principal worked with the school’s PTA president to bring in a man with a big reputation in this field. However – and this is where the story gets fuzzy – either they didn’t know exactly WHAT that reputation entailed, or simply believed the controversial message was one teens needed to hear.
Unfortunately for all involved, the reaction to the speaker was unexpected…and immediate. Accusations of misogyny, and sexism exploded across the Twitterverse. Now, the staff, and administrators are apologizing. But, to many, those apologies are ringing hollow.
In articles discussing the incident, commentators are not holding back. Some are accusing the administration of incompetence. Others are claiming it’s a conspiracy to bring “church values” into a “state school.” Virtually no one is taking the side – or even asking the side – of the administration. They are just collectively backing over them in a proverbial bus.
Now, it might be easy to decry the immediate, and reactionary nature of social media for all the kerfluffle. And it might be easy to dismiss the griping as overwrought, and emotional teenagers who get worked up over any ol’ thing. But at the end of the day, those criticisms – and many others just like them – don’t matter at all.
When it comes to PR in the digital age, source is much less important than content. When people read negative reviews, or reactions to your business, or brand, they are not stopping to check the source. They are simply absorbing the information.
Let that stark lesson provide you with some basic directions on how to handle your social media. When you hire someone to represent you, better make sure they know how to support the brand vision you are building.