27 September 2007

Content, Context, and Crisis Communications

Today Verizon said it was reversing its decision to prohibit an abortion rights group from sending text messages through its network. Via the NYT:
“The decision to not allow text messaging on an important, though sensitive, public policy issue was incorrect,” Jeffrey Nelson, a spokesman for Verizon, said in a statement, adding that the earlier decision was an “isolated incident.”
This is a great example of two things: A company understanding that you can apply meaningful context when evaluating content, and a company doing a very good job at crisis communications after a gaffe.

There may not be a more sensitive and emotionally charged political issue in America than this one. So I'm almost able to understand why someone at Verizon made that initial decision. (Almost.)

One can also understand the quick reaction from both abortion advocates and first-amendment champions. One can also expect those who oppose abortion to leverage this technology in the near future as well, and they have every right to do so.

But Verizon did the right thing. They changed their decision. They acknowledged their mistake. They got word out quickly. And they demonstrated that they are taking steps to prevent this mistake from happening again.

Are you watching this, Facebook?

I'm really amazed and disappointed here. Facebook has created an outstanding tool that facilitates communication and empowers the people who use it. Yet they continue to refuse to participate in one of the most important discussions about them. This has a draining effect on Facebook's reputation.

Textbooks have been written about this sort of thing. You never resolve a situation like this by staying in the bunker. Never.

Talk to us, Facebook. Verizon just showed you how to do it. It's only going to get worse for you if you don't.

1 comment:

dawn224 said...

I hope you are right. It's hard to miss the facebook gaffe when it is getting so much attention. I just hope it's not a matter of "there is no such thing as bad publicity".