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March 30, 2011
As INK, Smeared, Responded Belatedly...
 
Oh dear, when you loosen up, someone may take it amiss. Then it's time for a real-life PR response. So, how's it feel when it happens to you? That's what Star Million Baker's reflecting on in her  "Lessons Learned" blog post after "tip cards" that her firm, INK Public Relations, distributed at SXSWI (South By Southwest Interactive) earlier this month raised some eyebrows there.
 
One of the tips to speakers (the last one) was "A speech should be like a woman's skirt. long enough to cover the topic, yet short enough to be interesting." - freely adapted from Lord Balfour.
 
Well, Starr, owner, president of INK, advises that Violet Blue, a writer on sexuality, took offense to the sentiment in a blog post, that Starr came upon in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport after another trip. Apparently, the INK owner might have headed off the post if she had responded promptly to Violet weekend before, right after SXSWI. Anyhow, when you're in PR, you have to know how to learn from everything, including your own scrapes.

So here are Starr' Baker's INK crisis response lessons:

• Know your audience – "Get out, figure out your audience, come up with messages that will resonate with them, not just with you."

• Humor is hard – very hard – to pull off – "We usually counsel our clients to not even try it..."

• Respond quickly – "When Violet Blue reached out to me on Saturday, I thought a response on Monday was appropriate (I have two babies and busy weekends...) Apparently I was wrong..."

• Respond via multiple channels – "I'm still working on this one, but there is a lesson here somewhere..."

• Get a social media monitoring tool – "There were conversations being had on Twitter and Flickr and blogs that we missed, plain and simple. I believe in responding, believe in opening the lines of communication, but if you don’t see it you can’t address it."

There's more detail on each, a fascinating episode of corporate crisis response in action, without, however, a great deal at stake. After all, it's hard to misspell INK.  

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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