In the world of social communications, some things just never change. Below is a post from March 2009, and I am sharing it verbatim because it still rings true today.
Before you hit the send, reply, submit or post buttons, ask yourself this question? Do I want the whole world to see this?
While the “whole world” concept may seem a bit dramatic, if something you’ve written gets in front of the wrong set of eyeballs it will certainly feel as though the whole world has seen it.
While it is never our intention to flat out embarrass ourselves, plenty of people do it everyday and I think it can be avoided rather easily.
How you might ask? By operating like a public official. As a journalist, I know that I can submit a Public Records Request and get copies of emails received and sent by anyone whose salary is paid by taxpayers. So, even though my salary is paid by a private company, I operate as if I’m accountable to the masses.
As the Managing Editor of an online community my written words are often shared publicly and I am extremely aware of that. What that does is make me communicate very carefully and with an amazing amount of tact, even when the situation may warrant a different type of response.
If a member attacks me in an e-mail, I respond professionally even when it kills me. What I’ve found is sometimes my response prompts them to change their tune and a real conversation often follows. That isn’t *always* the case but it happens often enough.
I received an email from a member a few days ago about a woman she thought was attempting to scam the community with fund raising efforts for her terminally ill son. She had conducted quite a bit of research and shared the results in the email.
I didn’t bash the woman but I did indicate in my reply that I was going to remove the blog from the homepage immediately, investigate further and remove her from the community completely if she was running a scam.
Well, the member who emailed me posted my entire response in a blog warning the community to be leery about the woman in question. I didn’t know she would do that because it was an e-mail between the two of us and quite honestly I was not thinking about it when I responded. But boy am I glad that I’ve programmed myself to be careful with my responses. That could have been ugly.
The point of this post is simply to raise your awareness. You never know where your words will end up, so be careful.
Reputation management should start with you.
(Author’s note: For the last four years, I’ve been at Capstrat, where I’m currently SVP, Group Director leading the media teams. The story above was my life for three full years. For the last four years, I’ve helped others with this same kind of issue and trained my team to do the same.)