Our Country’s Greatest PR Hour

Often, when we are presenting on The Engaged Brand, we run into the organization that is too afraid to jump into Social Marketing – for fear of loosing control of their brand and facing a PR disaster. Our typical response is that the organization doesn’t have a choice – discussions will go on with our without them. Better for you to be involved early so you have a chance to change the conversation when needed.

Now that WikiLeaks has unleashed its billions of documents on the behind the scenes discussions of our State Department, and as we prepare for the onslaught of internal documents from some “Large Bank”, what questions can we ask thus far on how to handle the situation when your organization gets “Wiki-Leaked”?

Here are a few:

How prepared for it are we? (because it will happen).

Again you have no control – the only thing you could do is get ready for it. Hopefully, because this isn’t the first time this has happened, Secretary Clinton should of had a playbook for this. At this point – the head of every government organization should be preparing for the internals of their organization to be exposed.

How much credibility did the government have before the release?

Come to the party first – and earn the trust of the social world before you have to defend yourself. If the Pentagon or State Department had any premonition of this – was there anything they could have done in the social world prior that would have lessened the impact?

Did the government create a hostage situation?

To this date – practically every politician is calling for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s head on a platter through some form. This has caused Assange to go deep underground and setup triggers that would release even more information should anything happen to him. Has the government created a hostage situation which they have no control of? What’s this mean for organizations that may find themselves at gun point and threaten retaliation?

Who’s watching the dashboard?

Monitor every moment – you may be the one stoking the fire. Today, (12/6/10), Twitter mentioned “We Are Not Keeping WikiLeaks Out of Trending Topics” after several people speculated that because #WikiLeaks has been left out of the trending topics (though #cablegate was). Perhaps people are just not as into it as many fear. At times the fear that is self-perceived is not the at the same level (especially if Ashton Kutcher is having a bad day).

Is the hype in the social world greater than the hype in the “actionable” world?

Take a look at what happened when the social world exploded with support for “Opting Out” of the TSA Pat Down. Figure out a way to see if the discussions in the social world are truly matching what is going on in real life. Dave Barry once concluded that the wisdom of a crowd reached the IQ of a Golden retriever the more people participated. This is certainly not always the case – but it may happen that people completely lose interest. The more you draw attention to it – the more you may actually be stoking the fires.

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