Managing Phony Issues & Conflict on Social Media

Managing Phony Issues & Conflict on Social Media

What you can do, is take note. A lot of notes actually.

Keep a running list of what pseudo-issues are being shared on Social Media.

Use Social Media as a listening device — even if most of what you’re hearing is garbage.

Try to identify who is generating and perpetuating these issues. (Not publicly, but for your own understanding of what communication lapses your team isn’t already aware of.)

If fake issues circulating (about your project) are getting ANY traction on the web, you need to know it!

You can’t possibly address these phony issues, and help the public see them as “pseudo-input” if you aren’t even aware of them.

Use Social Media, to deepen your understanding of the whole ecosystem of phony issues, mis-information, or misunderstandings and the people who promote them.

Even though these issues are misleading for stakeholders, and qualify as “pseudo-input”, you have to publicly identify each issue as such before soliciting for real input.

If an online user says “No, don’t do it!” — that isn’t input unless you:

  • – Didn’t anticipate that reaction from anyone.
  • – Expected to hear that from other stakeholders, but not THAT stakeholder.
  • – Had no idea this person, group, or sister agency saw themselves affected by your project.

If that’s the case, then that’s a symptom that you also need to have a better handle on who your PAIs (Potentially Affected Interests) are, and how they see your organization and Mission (Clinic #95)… As well as what pseudo-issues they are conflating with bona fide issues.

Granted, scanning Social Media and online outlets for phony issues isn’t exactly fun, nor where your expertise is…

However, once you demonstrate that you have a complete handle on nearly all the pseudo-input out there, have adequate responses to each, you’ll help clarify what is real input, and what is pseudo-input, for the rest of the public.

Do that, and you’ll have made some serious progress!

Learn more about:

  • – preventing pseudo-input,
  • – dealing with stakeholder emotions, and of course
  • – how to keep politics from interfering with your effectiveness

by selecting from nearly 100 topics in our Clinic Library.

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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum

How You React to a Decision Making Mistake is the Real Mistake

How You React to a Decision Making Mistake is the Real Mistake

You know stuff happens. 

Even when your team does all it can to avoid screw-ups and mistakes.

The thing is — mistakes aren’t what will land you (and your credibility) in trouble with your public… It’s the knee-jerk reaction we all have to them that will actually make matters worse. 

Here are 3 tips to help your team handle inevitable mistakes.

1. It’s human nature to try to justify (even to ourselves) why the mistake happened, whose fault it is, why it wasn’t that big of a mistake (if one at all)…

How You React to a Mistake <br>is the Real Mistake

This is the real mistake.

Of course you’ve got to be careful in how you go public with acknowledging any screw-up, miscalculation, poor analysis, or serious error.  But giving in to the reflex to be overly-protective or defensive is guaranteed to make matters worse

So, rather than being “careful” in how you go public with a mistake, the better advice is to be “thoughtful” and not cave to human nature when you deal with your team’s mistakes.

We wish we could prevent you from dealing with any mistakes, but that simply isn’t possible, nor is it necessary. 

However, we’ll help you prevent those mistakes from damaging the public’s trust in you — and help you shape them into opportunities to deepen your credibility, even with the most cynical public.

2. Public Official? Don’t Act Like a Private Firm. Except When…

Even when you try you HARDEST to avoid mistakes…Embarrassing things still manage to happen. Even to the best teams.

Mistakes don’t discriminate, do they? They happen in public-sector, as well as private-sector organizations.

The question for you is:

How should folks like you, in the public-sector, handle mistakes?  Especially BIG ones… that your team caused?

When businesses mess up big-time, they hire a big name Public Relations firm.
These firms specialize in salvaging the company’s name, or saving the brand in face of the screw-up.

But what can you do when you work in the public-sector?
One of the few areas where our advice to public officials is similar to that of private-sector “crisis-communications PR experts”: Get the information out!
Don’t sit on it… Don’t DRIBBLE it out. Your team has to get the word out about your mistake immediately.

Since so little is shared between the private and public domains, we felt it was worth sharing this particular piece of parallel advice with you.

3. Hiring a PR Firm Can Backfire for Public Organizations

How You React to a Mistake <br>is the Real Mistake

You know what happens when a big corporation messes up. They hire one of the few Madison-Avenue PR firms with a reputation for knowing how to help clients who have been caught with their pants down.

Public agencies can’t really do that!

The trouble is, while the public doesn’t protest when a private-sector organization hires a spin-doctor (with the clear and obvious intention of “spinning” the public, saving face, and their image)…

That same public will NOT put up with a public agency doing the same thing.

No fair!

Double standard alert!

Even so, we have to admit that even we, as a citizens, don’t really want our government to spend our tax money to hire a “spin-doctor” to “spin” us.

Do you?

Yet mistakes happen, and your team needs to deal with them.

So how can you save your credibility with your public, when hiring a PR firm will only create more animosity and cynicism?

Is it a crazy “Catch-22” situation? What’s the best way to deal with it?

We explain the double-standard in more detail, including what you can do about your team’s mistakes in this month’s webinar.

How You React to a Decision Making Mistake is the Real Mistake

Public Sector Officials: How To Combat Online Negativity and Social Media Trolls

Being attacked is never easy… For many public-sector professionals, it never stops either.

Some members of the public act like making negative comments and online attacks on public officials is a sport.

And as anti-government attitudes heat up, so do the hateful social media posts toward public professionals. So how are you supposed to respond? Here are a couple of tips.

(Note, for our full Consent Building eBook on the topic, click here)…

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1. Leverage Negative Comments to Better Inform Your Opponents

Start by assuming the inflammatory or hateful comments have been made by an actual person, with legitimate concerns about your agency, and the projects you’re working on.

2. Resist getting emotionally sucked in — publicly or privately.

Think of an attack as a hook dangling online… Don’t bite! Expect what you say privately in response to online attacks to be made public anytime someone Googles your name, agency, or project (including texts, emails, and comments made within the confines of your office space).

Don’t wait too long, but gather your thoughts (and cool) before responding.

3. Never ignore or disregard negative comments.

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See each of these as a chance to make progress on the issues being aired, the misunderstandings that linger, and your overall credibility. To the “silent majority” watching from the sidelines, if you don’t respond to attacks you look tone-deaf, and conveniently inclined to only acknowledge the positive, or more tempered comments regarding your work.

People who didn’t necessarily question your work or motives,start to wonder if you’re online presence is purely self-serving. Responding only to the to level-headed and complimentary comments actually creates cynicism where it didn’t necessarily exist before.

Even though it’s natural to want to ignore the negative and most extreme comments, doing so will actually hurt your credibility among the broader community.

4. Establish the ground rules ahead of time by creating sensible Terms of Use.

Protect your agency and community of online commenters by creating a Terms of Use that is easily located on your website. It must be reasonable in scope, linked to often (when new users join the conversation, or people are on the verge of breaching the terms).

Also, be absolutely sure your team consistently enforced these Terms of use and updates them when necessary (not just when to your advantage). Then, publicly discuss your site’s Terms of Use, why you’ve created them, what they entail, and why it’s reasonable to expect commenters to adhere to the terms.

For more the full list of tips, please download our free Consent-Building eBook on this topic. Click here!