As Steve Williams has shown, you need to be careful about what you say out loud. It’s one thing to think that somebody is “a prick”, but as soon as you say that in public it changes things. And, once you’ve said it you can’t un-say it.
The guys at StartUp appear to have made some similar mistakes this week.
Firstly they published a guest post on their blog which contained some pretty poorly considered advice – basically that if you can’t afford to attend a conference then you should just use Photoshop to make a fake ticket and go anyway.
For reasons that should be very obvious this attracted some critical comments.
Secondly, they decided to respond to this by deleting the post and all of the comments from their site.
Without doubt this has made things worse for them.
For a start, you can’t delete something once it’s in the Google cache. By doing this it seems they are running away from the criticism, rather than making an attempt to deal with it.
As one of the people who commented on Glen Barnes’ post about this said:
“Pretending it didn’t happen is not the way to reach out or respect your community of users.”
How could they have handled this differently?
- They could have been a bit more careful about what was published in the first place.
- They could have engaged in the conversation by responding to the initial critical comments.
- They could have updated the post, making it clear that they didn’t endorse the advice that was published.
- They could have offered to publish a response from one of the people who were criticising the advice.
- They could have (should have!) accepted that it was wrong and apologised for doing something a bit dumb – which is something we all do from time to time, no?
- They could have said something (anything!) about what they would do to ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again.
Could have, should have, whatever.
It’s very hard to do any of these things from the position they now find themselves, which is regrettable.
Compare that to Tiger Woods’ response to the unfortunate position he found himself in as a result of his employee’s embarrassing public comments:
“Yeah, what ended up happening is I communicated with Phil, and we have discussed it. I talked to Stevie about it, and he feels bad, what happened. It’s something that none of us really wanted to have happen, but it’s over and done with and we put it to bed.”
When you mess up, talk straight.