Week in and week out, I and thousands of others in the PR field look to PRWeek to tell us how companies and nonprofits respond to a variety of crises and PR problems.
This week, it was the newspaper’s turn to be embroiled in controversy and trouble. Online marking expert BL Ochman blogged about the nightmare she endured when she was the victim of a spam attack by PRWeek and its email consulting firm, Adicio.com.
Adicio sent out more than 3,200 emails to an OPEN list of PRWeek newsletter subscribers, and then re-sent that message and the passwords of everyone on the list to each person as many as 1,000 times over the next 24 hours.
The “incident” corrupted her Microsoft identity database and rendered Word and Entourage unusable, forcing her to spend $161 to buy Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac.
“But this isn’t a post about why PRWeek sucks or why Adicio.com sucks. It’s a post about the real impact of social media on corporate reputation. And about the cluelessness of the PR industry in general about social media, and the inability—or maybe it’s the refusal—of corporations to believe that consumers really do have the tools and the power to influence brand reputation and sales.”
BL turned to the social networking community for help. Andrés Bianciatto, a friend whom she met online through Twitter, where she chronicled her entire nightmare, spent five hours on the phone with her early this morning helping her to recover from the spam attack. She writes:
“Corporate CMOS, CEOs, CFOs, listen up—what is said and done in Twitter and other social networks has more to do with your brand reputation than anything else you are doing to sell your goods and services.”
After she blogged about the incident and demanded that PRWeek and Adicio reimburse her the $161 for the software and send her a free iPod nano, the topic of the spam emails, PRWeek editor Julia Hood called her and said the newspaper would meet her demands. So far, she says, all Adicio has done is issue a lame excuse.
I commented at BL’s blog and said that I think the newspaper should assign its own columnist, Hamilton Nolan, to write about the crisis in the next issue. His column, “PR Play of the Week,” highlights a PR play and rates it on a five-point system, from a #1 (clueless) to a #5 (ingenious).
We know exactly which rating that PR mistake deserves. But I’m curious, Publicity Hounds, what’s your best advice for PRWeek and Adicio?