What goes around comes around…

In my last two blog posts I talked about how to listen to your target public to build a valuable two-way relationship and how to strengthen that relationship. This final post will focus on how to maintain that relationship in the long term by being honest and transparent with your online public by exploring how Ashy Bines, a self-proclaimed leading body training specialist’s failed to run her online “clean eating” business ethically.

In order to maintain a supportive and genuine relationship with the online public, PR practitioners must be transparent on every outlet of communication. It’s important to be apparent to those whom you are trying to persuade with both your identity and your motive/intent (Bivins, 2008). Otherwise, trust, reputation, relationships that were built over time will be broken.

Bines has undoubtedly been successful in reaching and engaging a large number of online followers. Her social media presence has taken storm as one of Australia’s largest fitness programs, solely promoted through social media. As mentioned in the video, the reaction to the exposing Ashy Bines’ plagiaristic/dishonest business ethics has led to angry consumers creating Facebook pages, blog posts and reviews to expose Bines.

Bines’ scripted speech with no apology has made it worse and more difficult for the public to accept her response. She needed to reflect and address the issue honestly instead of spinning the message and blaming a unknown third party.  Additionally, it was important for her to regain trust instead of marketing her new product during such a sensitive time! It’s important for PR practitioners to ensure that the manner in which the disseminate their message is truthful on an interactive online forum. Communication must always be based on honest exchange.

These days, it’s hard to manage and control people’s response and reaction, especially as online is global, interactive and personal. Everyone has different expectations and responses to communications and messages. It’s no longer easy to predict or manage reaction as communities can mobilise together to either support or boycott your cause in a small amount of time, and find hidden truths about the company.

The Web 2.0 is instant; people can respond when their emotions are raging high, instead of taking the time to calm down and write a letter or talking on the phone directly to the server about the issue.

With an online space, you are no longer dealing with a business who is untouchable, it’s all based on instantaneous human interactions which must be dealt with properly and timely to be able to defuse the crisis and solve the problem. Only then can you even begin to reestablish those relationships.



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