Disappearance of Marketing Genius - Lesson #2
Background: Marketing Genius (i.e., this blog) was taken down on July 13. For the ensuing eleven-day period, we lost control of the blog and our domain. During that time, an unknown party seized the blog and began running spoof ads containing links to SPAM proliferation sites, plus other nefarious, unauthorized junk. The episode was a weird, dark abyss. Thanks to the efforts of many of you (our friends, readers and supporters - the marketing genius community), the blog was returned to us on Thursday, July 24. The events associated with the loss and recovery of this blog contain lessons for all bloggers.
So - here is the second lesson: The Power of Social Networks
As mentioned in the previous post, Google responded to me and began to remedy the situation only after receiving an inquiry from a member of the press. What's strange is how the Daily Mail reporter, Tricia Fulks, discovered our story. I did not send a press release to her or contact her directly, nor did any of my colleagues.
Working with friend, blogger and trusted advisor, Jason Keeling of Keeling Strategic Communications, we crafted a press release about the hijacking of this blog. This was a fundamental part of the PR component of our recovery strategy. Jason and I, with help and input from several Maple colleagues, finalized our draft press release on Friday, July 18. Following advice from legal counsel (friend, blogger and trusted advisor, Bob Coffield of Flaherty Sensabaugh & Bonasso, PLLC), we elected to sit on the release over the weekend. We were giving Blogger (Google) more time to respond. Then, having observed no response, Jason posted our release on his blog on Sunday night, July 20.
From the 20th through the 23rd, our press release post from Keeling's blog was picked up on Oncee's blog. In addition, a flurry of messages on Twitter were "tweeted out" by various, supportive friends and followers. I personally "tweeted" several times a day, alternately pointing folks to Keeling's blog and calling out, "Still waiting and hoping for Blogger to respond to the loss of my blog." The subtle point here is that no one directly contacted the traditional press. Following our PR strategy, we were relying on the groundswell of online conversation (i.e., blog and twitter attention) to bring attention--and a resolution--to this troubling matter. It is important to note that I had already notified Blogger/Google through proper channels (on July 17th) but had received no response from them.
On the afternoon of July 23rd, I received the initial inquiry from Ms. Fulks, the newspaper reporter. She was calling to look into this story and to interview me. When I asked her how she discovered news of our blog disappearance, she said, "Someone just handed something off the printer about this." What bloggers should take away from this is that our situation was much more newsworthy to the reporter having originated from third-party sources. If I had called and requested press coverage of this episode, I am fairly sure that her appetite would have been weaker. To me, this illustrates the power of social networks (or social media) to amplify the news value of a business story, especially in a crisis situation like the one we were handling.
A final point, and one not to be overlooked, is the human perspective on the power of social networks. In short, it is the relationship aspect. As I have mentioned, this whole ordeal was very tough for me. From beginning to end, it required 23 hours of my time--none of it planned, none of it generating any business. I was mired in a troubling, unproductive and at times hopeless mess. I felt like crap--a sharp sense of loss, having my creative outlet and four and a half years of effort stripped from me. I was sad. And I was embarrassed that I had been scammed, or had somehow allowed this to happen. What kept me going were the dozens of encouraging messages on Facebook, Twitter and on other blogs' comments. Thanks to all of you for helping me pull through and prevail. Know that I pledge to equal your support.
Come on back for the next lesson - coming soon!