Disappearance of Marketing Genius - Lesson #1
As promised, I am ready, willing and eager to tell the story about what happened to Marketing Genius last week.
July 13 - The story begins on a Sunday night. I had come into the office for a conference call with a client. (Sunday night was the only time we could find to talk through some strategy on an urgent PR project, and we had to be ready to roll on Monday.) As I was preparing for the 9pm call, I had a few minutes to spare and decided to peek in on this blog. Instead of Marketing Genius, I saw a rather frightening Blogger message screen.
Blog does not exist
click here to claim [marketinggenius.blogspot.com]
Feeling a bit unnerved, I naturally decided to attempt to log in to Blogger.com and access the blog control panel or dashboard. I was able to log in, but Marketing Genius was completely and mysteriously missing from my dashboard. (I have a few other blogs, which were still displayed.)
It was time for the client phone call, so I had to set my fears aside for a couple hours. Later, I checked again and nothing had changed. I was at a loss. I didn't know how or why this happened, and I felt sick, equal parts panic and dread. Were four and a half years of work gone? Was one of my primary creative outlets permanently stripped from me? Had this wonderful online community been erased? Thus began my troubling, weird, at-times scary, twelve-day episode.
In short, Marketing Genius was taken from me from July 13 to July 24. Google mistakenly took down the blog, and I lost access to the domain. It was temporarily taken over (its ownership was seized) by some third party spammer for several days, during which time this domain was infested with nefarious spoof ads, linking to spammer and malware proliferation sites. The rest of the story is a long, complicated tale that I am happy to share. I'll reveal various useful episodes in the days ahead, and I will strive to spare you the trivial parts.
One key player in all of this is a reporter, a member of the traditional media. Tricia Fulks is a first-year Staff Reporter for the Charleston Daily Mail. She wrote a nice story which was published in today's edition, and she does a fine job of explaining what happened. Since you can get that story, in essence the what and why, from the Daily Mail, my focus going forward will be the learning experience ... the lessons for all of us.
So here we go, this is Lesson #1 - The Power of the Press
Once I was sure that Marketing Genius was down, or perhaps gone for good, I began the process of notifying Blogger and Google about the problem. I dove into Google's prescribed processes for notification. This took several days, as I began meeting with IT gurus, legal counsel and a fellow PR professional. We spent three days in discovery and strategy-making mode. Following those important steps, I officially notified Google on Thursday, July 17. With advisors at my side, we uploaded an official complaint via Google's online form. Within seconds we received an auto-response from Google, stating that our complaint had been received and also curiously warning that a recent party, who had brought legal action against Google, lost their case and had to pay Google the sum of $100,000. (Such sabre rattling was not what I was hoping for, by the way.)
The next six days were torturous, as I waited (and waited) for a response from Google. With our two-fold strategy (legal and PR tactical plans) in place, we took various actions. Those will be highlighted in subsequent posts.
On Wednesday, July 23 (six days later), I got a call from Ms. Fulks, the Daily Mail reporter. She had picked up a press release about this situation and wanted to interview me. We talked through the sequence of events and addressed her questions. She mentioned that she was also planning to contact Google's press office to get their side of the story. I also referred her to our legal counsel for her questions pertaining to legal matters and possible implications.
On the morning of Thursday, July 24 (day seven), Ms. Fulks called back. She informed me that she had spoken to a Google press officer. She told me that the Google rep wished to speak with me directly and that Google thought that things could be resolved. With the contact information supplied by the reporter, I placed a call to Meaghan Lamb in Google's Virginia office.
I spoke with Ms. Lamb at 2pm. She was extremely pleasant and helpful. She took the details of the situation and promised to dig into the problem. She indicated that her team felt that the problem could be resolved fairly quickly and completely. Ms. Lamb needed to speak with some colleagues in Google's California office but promised to call me back the next morning. Within 45 minutes, she called me back saying, "I think we have everything resolved. Are you at a computer?" She asked me to pull up the blog. Everything was back to normal! Next, she asked me to log in to my Blogger account to make sure that I could access the blog. I could!
Long story, short: Google fixed the problem within 45 minutes. I was relieved, if not overjoyed! Yet, it took them 7 days to contact me. That week was a dark, unpleasant abyss, as you might expect. What broke the logjam ... what ended the silence ... and caused Google to take action was an inquiry from the press. When a journalist, a member of "The Fourth Estate," called, Google took action. And that, marketing geniuses, is a patent lesson in the power of the press. The traditional press still wields tremendous power. Those of us in West Virginia have seen this powerful effect in the events surrounding the WVU presidency over the past several months, plus numerous other episodes. As you may know, I am a huge advocate of social media. In fact, I am part of it. But through the disappearance and return of Marketing Genius, I am ever so appreciative of the value, role and power of our traditional American media.
You are invited to stayed tuned, to check back often, as we reveal more of these important lessons for bloggers and communicators everywhere. Let's hear your reactions!