Saturday, November 18, 2006

PR Strategy needed when using social media

When The Carphone Warehouse boss Charles Dunstone started his corporate blog earlier this year, he was hailed as a cutting-edge chief executive; a man prepared to open up the inner workings of his company to the wider world and willing to communicate directly with his customers, writed Fiona Walsh at the Guardian.

She continues:

But that was April, when Britain's biggest mobile phones retailer was riding high on a wave of favourable publicity about its "free" TalkTalk broadband offer.

Scroll forward a few months and the web is full of tales of "My TalkTalk Hell" as the group struggles to cope with the demand it so badly under-estimated, leaving thousands of customers angry and frustrated.

So what did Dunstone do at the height of the crisis? He simply stopped blogging for two and a half month. His post this Monday largely consists of an apology for his lengthy absence and a reassurance that the broadband supply problems are being worked out.

According to online marketing and communications consultant Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book, Dunstone committed the worst mistake a blogger can make: to start a blog and then abandon it, whether through lack of time or lack of inspiration.

"It makes you look lame," says Weil. "It's important to post regular entries, even if it's only a few lines. An absence of more than two or three weeks is an eternity in the blogosphere."

Which is why using social media needs a Public Relations strategy in place before it is used.