I do the occasional crisis-communication training for a local PR company, teaching executives what social media is, how it works, and how it is going to be used for and against their company in a crisis. There is always that one high level exec who watches me with arms crossed, refusing to accept what I have to say. The general counsel for a large, major chemical company recently followed my presentation with, "Well, we will just turn the Internet off." That's when his CEO put down his Blackberry and really started to pay attention to what we had to say; he realized had a problem at the highest levels in the company. His lead corporate attorney, with years of legal experience, all of a sudden looked dumb. Just plain dumb.
"I don't know anything about Facebook or privacy settings."
"I don't quite get it myself."
"I'm still trying to figure out my fax machine so I'm not helpful in this discussion."
"I'm confused. And this is why I don't do Facebook. My picture with my dog is the only thing I post."
"We don't know, either."
We trust national morning television anchors to bring us information to start our day. If they do not know anything about something over a billion people in the world use, then how can I trust them to bring me other information?
One thing I always tell the executives I train is you do not have to use social media but you damn well better know what it is and how it works, because your clients and customers do know how it works and do use it. As well as your viewers.
[Image: Flickr user Len "Doc" Radin]