Why some people should avoid social media completely

In February, the American Red Cross social media specialist Gloria Huang sent the following tweet out on the organization’s Twitter feed:

But the party girl’s rogue tweet stayed up only about an hour on the site, before a flurry of complaints prompted the organization to remove it. Huang later blamed the mistake on her “inability to use Hootsuite(a service that enables users to manage multiple Twitter accounts).  Continue reading

Johnson & Johnson recalls Extra-Stinky Tylenol

Years ago, I used to teach public relations courses called Reputation Management to corporate suits.  When I singled out companies that had somehow managed to weather bad press to emerge with reputations well intact, there was one at the top.

That company poster child was, hands down, Johnson & Johnson.

In fact, for many years the Forbes list of 100 Most Admired Companies featured J&J as their perennial list-topper. And the exemplary way the company had swiftly stick-handled its catastrophic Tylenol murders scandal in 1982 continues to be taught in PR, journalism and crisis communications classes.

But those heady days must seem far, far away now, with increasing reports of tainted J&J drug recalls. As Consumer Reports Health describes it, a nauseatingly bad smell to its products has been blamed for stinking up several different types of Tylenol, the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, HIV/AIDS drug Prezista, and two lots of the anti-epilepsy drug Topamax among many others. In fact, the agency reports that recalls like these have cost J&J almost $900 million in sales last year alone.   Continue reading

The Vancouver riots: a backlash against the backlash

True confession time: I still have not told my mother that I was sent to the principal’s office back in Grade Six. The only reason for this is that our principal, Mr. Devine, let me and my friend Sheila off with a stern lecture about whatever minor school rule we had just violated. But Mr. Devine wasn’t the worst threat to our mental and physical health on that day as the two of us stood weeping hysterically outside his office. The real threat would have been facing our parents back home, along with the terrifyingly certain consequences that “causing trouble at school” would bring.

Back then, the concept of logical consequences was perfectly understood by all of us. Everybody – our parents, teachers, friends, neighbours – knew and accepted (along with all physicists since Newton) that for every action, there would inevitably be an equal and opposite reaction. And that parental reaction would be far more painful than anything Mr. Devine could dish out. No exceptions, no excuses, no getting off easy.

That was all part of making sure that we would not grow up and one day decide to set fire to police cars in downtown Vancouver.

So when watching hours of live news footage of thugs terrorizing the streets of Vancouver during last week’s Stanley Cup riots, I couldn’t help but sadly ask myself if we have somehow raised an entire generation of spoiled brats who have never had to grasp the foreign concept of facing logical consequences of their actions?  Continue reading