Public relations and marketing communications professionals can learn something from the following parable:
My friend Katie invited me to a six-degrees group, and I was going to join, because I think it’s a worthy experiment: Can we, through six degrees of separation, connect with everyone on Facebook? Empirically, statistically, it would be interesting to join and find out first-hand.
But then I saw a discussion thread whose title contained a racial epithet. It was an obvious ploy to get attention, and the 800 comments in the thread are testimony to the ploy’s success. I didn’t bother to read the comments or post one myself, because I know that would just feed the beast, and I don’t want to associate myself with the word in question.
Another six-degrees group had a discussion thread whose bear-baiting title posed the question, “Can someone give me one logical reason why gays should have rights?” I didn’t try putting that fire out either.
Yet another of these groups had one discussion inviting people to “Stereotype The Person Above You” and one posing the thought-provoking query “tits,face, or ass, which one is better”. You get the idea.
The comment counts for those discussion threads each number in the hundreds. The threads would not have appeared in the top three discussions had they not received all that attention. That’s how things work around here: The more people are participating in something, the more likely that thing is to get seen.
The Internet is a great place to learn the following:
Sometimes the best way to make something go away is to ignore it.
PR and marcomm people take heed. If the company you represent gets some bad press or stumbles across some nasty feedback on some no-name blog, consider ignoring it. Let the negativity die in peace and quiet. Die of it too.