When Bad Words Happen to Good People

by Frank Roche on December 2, 2011

in Communication, Social Media

You’re living in Greenville, South Carolina — the Buckle of the Bible Belt. You like your morning coffee. And the sports page.

You turn to page C3…and spit your coffee on your short-sleeved dress shirt. The ultimate swear word has turned up in your local newspaper. You’re agog. You’re aghast. You…and the entire online community have seen a swear word accidentally printed in your newspaper.

I made a snapshot of it below. (If you’re offended by that word, don’t see Goodfellas, where it gets used 2.06 times per minute on average. There are worse ones.) Looks like someone put a slug in there and was waiting for additional copy that didn’t get inserted. Never a good idea if you’re in the writing business.

The Bad Word in the Greenville News

What interested me was how long it took the Greenville News to get out there in front of this story. They didn’t. This silly story went viral. It blew up on Facebook, Twitter, and online news outlets. What did they do at the Greenville News? Wait until 4:41 in the afternoon to post an apology on their website.

Too late.

Stories move fast. Faster than most companies are capable of responding to if they’re using a 1991 mentality in a 2011 world.

You know when people tell you that you need a social media policy? It’s not the technology. It’s opening a channel of communication and a way of thinking about communication BEFORE someone accidentally writes f^*k in one of your communication pieces.

Will you wait an entire day to respond? If you don’t have a social media channel open right now…well, you know the answer.

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