Flame Out

As I ease back into blogging about marketing and PR in the HR marketplace, I wonder how many negative nellies are out there lurking around the infinite dark corners of the Internet waiting to post a “flaming” response to my occasional pearls of wisdom – or to post a “flaming” retort their own blog. I mean, all we’re doing here at the HRmarketer.com blog is providing marketing and PR recommendations and HR marketplace and business commentary for our readers. It’s a business blog after all – an online marketing portal that provides valuable content to its readers.

I have never posted a hateful or sarcastic blog or blog comment personally thrashing another firm or business or person, nor have my colleagues. What would be the point? To be hateful and controversial to attract negative attention, increase our traffic and online persona? And would that ever translate into revenue for our firm if I was personally attacking an HR thought leader or supplier for whatever the reason, even if we were attacked first? (That’s what your crisis communications strategy is for.)

What’s that rule of “spreading the word” again? If a prospect/buyer finds your content/products/services/company a positive value to their organization, then they may tell two or three people. But if they think you’re a poisonous snake in the grass, then they’re gonna tell at least 10 or more folks.

I realize there are those who would make the argument that there are opportune moments for this kind of negative “rubber-necked” marketing (sites like YouTube, TMZ.com, f***edcompany.com), but it should stay out of the HR marketplace. Spin the story of why your company is great, not why your competitors are idiots.

I share these thoughts today because yesterday I read an article in the San Jose Mercury News titled "Flame on: Hateful discourse in blogs scare some users away.” The reporter, Mark Boslet, recounted the tale of “Kathy Sierra, a blogger who received death threats, sexually explicit messages - even a threat to slit her throat - earlier this year. She traces the storm to a blog post from April 2006 titled ‘Angry/Negative People Can Be Bad For Your Brain,’ which unleashed a slowly gathering snowball of criticism, some of it harsh. Sierra said she believes the outpouring came in part because she was perceived as too optimistic.”

Because she was too optimistic? This is disturbing on so many levels and I know there are many more examples where that came from – as there are many more examples of bloggers who blatantly don’t care to self-monitor and blast away. Why are people so hateful and so eager to rip one another to shreds, especially if they’re hopeful or just differing on opinion and “out of range”? ( This is a rhetorical question for the ages, I know.) Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame wrote a solo song many years called “The Bravery of Being Out of Range.” I won’t get into his literal meaning of the song (queue Desert Storm), but I’m borrowing the title for figurative, illustrative purposes; hateful discourse is easier to convey in writing, whether it be in e-mails, blogs, websites, or the ancient art of letter writing.

This is not a discussion or debate about freedom of speech; I just don’t dig personal attacks in any forum – especially online and “out of range.” That’s my rant and I’m flamin’ out to go on vacation next week. Peace out (are the kids still saying that?).

But before I go I also wanted to touch on John Sumer’s post yesterday in the Electronic Recruiting News reviews current U.S. blogging laws and why HR suppliers that blog and comment on blogs should be reading them.

Here’s one of five laws John highlighted that relates to this posting:

Duty to Monitor. The law protects bloggers from having to monitor and control slander or defamation. But, there are stringent requirements to monitor and control criminal comments or stolen intellectual property.

As John recommends, I’m taking this article with me next week...

Posted by Kevin Grossman

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