Musings from the CU Suite

Feb 14, 2012

In the Age of Outrage

Here are some thoughts from my colleague, Karen.   Good stuff, people.  Good stuff. 

Written by Karen Tyson

NAFCU Senior Vice President/ Marketing and Communications

Susan G. Komen Foundation is the latest organization to backtrack on a corporate decision due to a flurry of public outrage generated through social media. Seems social media has definitely come of age, and with it, the reality that anything and everything is potential fodder for discussion and dissection by anyone willing to tweet about it or post it to Facebook. 

This 24/7 opportunistic world is the reason it is more important than ever for managers to carefully consider every decision, no matter how seemingly unimportant, and troubleshoot it for any potential pitfalls. The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been.

It’s a new world and a policy decision that makes sense in your board room, might not make sense to those outside of it—and unfortunately, the facts don’t often matter.

We don’t control the news. We don’t control the spin. The public does. They pay attention to everything—not just the things we make public through our press machines.

And once the information is out, it’s very difficult to change the message. Komen tried. But within a day they had backpedaled and reversed their initial decision. That old adage that says any news is good as long as they spell your name right isn’t true anymore.

What’s the lesson for the rest of us? Be careful and thorough. Consider all the angles and every perspective. And once you’re comfortable, make sure you are willing to stand behind your choices.  Own your decisions. Because in the end, someone isn’t going to agree with your stance and might decide to quibble with it—and that’s okay—you just have to be firmly committed to it and comfortable with whatever consequences might ensue.

Fortunately, one of the upsides of this new world is that the public’s attention span is shorter than ever—and they’ll be moving on to the next carcass—oops, story in a nanosecond.