Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Asleep at the switch

It used to be that everything you needed to control your image was in your hands. People read what you wanted them to read at your website. They saw what you wanted them to see in your internal newsletter. They heard what you had to tell them at your special event. The only real time you had to worry about someone saying something different was in a letter to the editor...and who ever reads those except the person who writes them, the editor who places them and the dozen or so PR flacks who react to them?

Those days are soooo over. Most non-profits now must deal with the fact that their image is not their own anymore. Anyone can go online and say anything about them. And they are.

When was the last time you did a search on your own non-profit? You might be surprised, even shocked what you find. Someone you know, or don't, may be out there saying all sorts of things about you. In the process, they may be stealing all your marketing and communications thunder.

For example, there's a national charity I know. They do good work and have an excellent reputation, but the wikipedia entry on them basically says they're out of business. No one at the charity knew about it until someone mentioned it to them, a very long time after it had been posted.

There's a local health care charity that long ago got rid of it's communications manager as a way to save money. They never bothered to ask him for the codes to their Facebook, Twitter or YouTube accounts, even though he would have been happy to hand them over. The result is that no one at the charity knows how to manage any of these accounts. So, for example, someone can no go online and post the most savage comment about the chariity and the hospitals they raise money for, and there would be no way to stop them. The charity can't remove the comment. They can't complain about being spammed. They're essentially helpless on their social media and will be until the end of time. And the best thing is that they are blissfully ignorant...none of them ever used social media, except the communications manager.

Wake up and smell the roses. The best way to take hold of your image is to actually keep track of it. That's not very hard to do.

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