We did this by simply writing our blogs, commenting on twitter and posting on facebook. Fairly inoccous pastimes you would imagine So how did a bunch of happy, passionate amateurs bring about an apology and a retraction from a large manufacturing company? How did we lever the power of social media?
This is the summary of what happened
Blogger writes about poorly installed building products
The blog has photos which show a brand name
The manufacturer threatens legal action ( read hissy fit).
The socal media world turns attention on the manufacturer who backs down.
So could the standoff have been avoided?
After receiving threat of legal action the blog altered all the photos to hide the manufacturers name. I imagine this is what most of us would do in the face of this sort of over the top approach. I certainly would. This blog writes principally about the science of building and was not trying to make any point regarding a specific product. So if they are unhappy, take the photos down. This should have been an end to it.
From Little things big things grow!
There is a fine Paul Kelly song called From little things big things grow, which outlines the struggle between Australian aboriginal stockmen who decide to stage a peaceful sit down protest against the vast pastoral company Vesteys. One of the Aboriginal men Vincent Lingiari, talks of how little actions can grow into a mighty torrent. They sat down for eight years before their claims to equal wages were accepted.
Fortunately our humble blog with its offensive photos didn’t have to wait that long. Slowly news was spreading that the blog had been very poorly treated by the multinational. Other blogs like us here at buildinginyourblood were starting to run posts decrying the heavy handed action. The news was principally being spread through blogs and propogated on twitter. Soon no fewer than seven separate blogs were carrying the story.
The little guy stands up.
As each blog outlined the story the number of comments and email directed against the company grew exponentially. Here is a short selection;
I will never recommend Guardian. Big mistake on their part, hopefully someone with a little more sense and a little less bravado will step up to the plate and make things right from inside the firm.Posted @ Monday, November 07, 2011 3:37 AM by Elizabeth Guinn
Let’s hope that Guardian sees the error of their ways and that installers see the importance of doing their job correctly.Posted @ Monday, November 07, 2011 6:09 AM by Bruce Kitchell
Wow, I was just planning on buying a whole bunch of Guardian insulation. Guess I’ll have to look elsewhere now!Posted @ Monday, November 07, 2011 6:42 AM by Ckmapawatt
Let’s spread the word to show that journalism and blogging can sometimes be as powerful as a large corporation armed with a legal team. Martin Holladay, GBA Advisor
Seems this is just an ill-advised attempt at intimidation. As a contractor, I’ve sent an appropriate email to Guardian. Various manufacturers who have earned the right to be on my s**t list don’t realize how many purchasing decisions I influence. Being on a lot of s**t lists can’t be good in such a competitive industry. Mark Costa
It is bringing a wry smile to my face to read these comments again. It reminds me of every time I got mishandled by a bank, or a large supplier and I didnt win. This time we won.
Eating Humble pie
Here are some noteworthy extracts from the apology letter:
“ You’re right in saying we were over the top in our initial response…We’ll keep our lawyers for other matters. Again, my apologies for coming off so harsh.”
“Thanks for stimulating some serious soul-searching within our organization over the past few days.”
“…. I am committed to improving Guardian’s communication standards at all levels, including to our customers and the building industry. This social media episode gives me the opportunity to put that commitment into action.”
“I apologize for our Company having sent a letter that may have gone over the top or that was viewed as improperly harsh.”
Now that Guardian understood the power of social media they even tweeted in a similar vane
“You’re right of course, our response to your blog was over the top.New & improved letter on its way to you.Then lets talk.”
When Alison Bales posted the apology letter the response was measured. People accepted their apology and moved on. The damage however was already done.