Monday, November 19, 2007

Nastiness and Blogging - Our Take on CK Hall of Fame Disaster

Greetings and Happy Thanksgiving!

As a general rule, we try to stay away from controversy and keep these blogs informative and hopefully entertaining. However, we have been getting requests for our comments on the subject. Until now, we haven't really known how to respond to make it educational and informative to all. Alas...it hit me...so I can now weigh in.

The Situation

Here is our understanding. Every year Creating Keepsakes holds a contest for a Hall of Fame. The winners get their layouts published and recognition (and perhaps some prizes). The rules clearly state that one must take all the photos as well as do his/her own work.

It appears that this year one (or more ) of the applicants used pictures of others. First CK and other "officials" came out to state that there was a mistake and then ended up disqualifying a participant. It is our understanding that another winner withdrew as well. Then...the blogs and media went wild! There has been so many rumors and the like over this whole situation.

Our Take
I look at this as follows when it comes to issues:
1) Are Rules Really the Rules?
2) What Happens When There is a Problem?
3) What can one do to prevent the nasty blogs/press?

Are Rules Really the Rules?
Let's get real, we have all heard that rules are meant to be broken. However, when dealing with livelihoods and reputation - the rules are the rules. Once a mistake was uncovered, the applicant should have been disqualified. HOWEVER, if they had bent the rules before - it set a bad precedent... The moral of the story - if you are going to submit something - KNOW THE RULES! If you take the time to make the rules - ENFORCE THEM.

What Happens When There is a Problem?
Basically, how can a company really handle what could be a public relations crisis or nightmare. I have dealt with this more times than people realize. My father was a Union President. He constantly handled crisis situations and I was always amazed at how he was able to resolve them. I have tried to take my cue from him. Here goes:

1) Breathe! In a swift, but calm pace gather the facts. Allow yourself a few moments to collect what you want to say and find out what really happened. I am not saying take a long time, but take enough time to find out what is wrong. In the long run, it is easier to explain why you took so long versus issuing retractions.
2) Be Honest! Knowing the facts and being upfront are important. HOWEVER, please consult legal counsel if you think what you are going to announce could have an adverse impact on you or your company in any way. Now is the time to use the professional team of support you have in your corner.
3) Appoint one spokesperson and be done with it! There needs to be one single and unifying voice in the company.
4) Be prepared to take your lumps and move on. Take the time to see what happened, correct the problem, and then move on. We'll discuss the "back lash" further down.
5) Remember, it could and may come back to remind you later on. However, don't let it get to you. If you've admitted your mistake, taken steps to correct it, and handled the public with respect and dignity - you've done all you can do.

What Can One Do to Prevent Nasty Blogs/Press?
I get this question so often about so many things. The short answer - you can't. Sorry, didn't want to give you any false hope. HOWEVER, there is a line for free speech - especially commercial free speech. If it is crossed, then it is actionable. Here are some items to remember:

1) Libel is written words and Slander is Spoken Words (S- Spoken...that's how I remember).

2) The use of trademarks and copyrighted work in order to make comments about is not always FAIR USE. Many times, it is far from it.

3) You are responsible for what you have written...and taking it down later does not remove your liability. Venting or blowing off steam is fine, but it can cost you!

4) If you sponsor a blog, you have the right to monitor it and remove comments. Just make sure you have it clearly stated or listed. It may not be necessary, but it is important. Many of you have seen the signs "We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone." That could be the case for a blog. However, if you are inviting public comment and going to remove it, make sure it is for the right reasons. You don't have to be a hostage on your own site, but you do have to make sure the civil liberties of others are respected.

I did not mention the names of the designers who were in question. Their names are all over the Internet and I understand that she (they) are suffering from it. Rumors fly that people have even called her restaurant and booked all her reservations and then not showed. Obviously, this crosses the line. No matter what the action, if you interfere with someone's business...you cross the line! Sometimes people let the best of their emotions take them away.

Now, if people didn't win, I understand that $$$ can be derived from a win. I would be a little upset too if I found out that those who didn't follow the rules won. I'm human and we're all human. However, when our "being human" affects a person's livelihood or a business's bottom line, then it crosses the line.

I'd love to hear your comments on this. If you have comments on the CK Hall of Fame disaster, I encourage you to make your comments known on those boards. If you have comments on this blog and our take on it, then I encourage you to leave them below!

Get Ready to Feast this Week!
Remember to Create with Your Heart and Your Head!
Tammy

PS - Thank you to Rebecca for encouraging me to post this!

5 comments:

Robin Beam said...

I wholeheartedly agree with your thoughts, Tammy. It's hard to admit when you're wrong, but it's better that you step up and admit and make some real decisions and then stick to your guns. I think the CK HOF issue is a definite: live and learn situation and everyone should realize that things do happen; just don't let them happen again! In the end, we should all try to step back, take a breath and just move on and remember to enjoy the art!

Inky Hugs, Robin

rebecca said...

Excellent post Tammy! Thanks for weighing in on this. I especially agree with your 5 steps for handling a crisis. It's much better in the long run to step up and admit you've made a mistake. I think this should be required reading for everybody!

Margot Potter said...

I am so out of it here, but heck this is a totally different arm of the craft world. If someone used my work and submitted it to a contest, I'd be mighty mad. I'd not however address it specifically in my blog, I'm always careful not to name names or specifics, better to handle these things privately. I've had my work stolen and sold as kits or as magazing projects and on the internet, I wanted to call them out in my blog, but I did not. I took the high road.

I also have a feature where EVERY comment on my blog is subject to my approval before posting. This is because of spammers, but I've not published comments that were obviously self serving or cruel and it's I think the best way to handle your blog. It is your web log, they can always get their own blog and say what they please. I highly recommend that feature because it states upfront what's going on.

Very excellent post. I want to talk to you, email me a good time so we can chat. I have QVC on Monday and Wednesday but I'm in the office Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Rock on!
Margot

Anonymous said...
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Michelle McGee said...

Wow, so cool to see this blog. I love facts, data, true information... this is enlightening.

I just loved learning the difference between and definitions of libel and slander... very informative.

Keep up the good work!

The Fine Print!

Since there may be legal discussions going on...there must be a disclaimer!

This blog is for educational and information purposes only. It does not constitute the practice of law. The attorney who writes this blog is only licensed in the State of Ohio and Michigan. There is NO attorney-client relationship of any type. You must sign appropriate documenation and have appropriate new client counseling to be a client of Browning-Smith, P.C. Each and every situation is different and all readers must seek his or her own legal counsel. The information on this blog is not guaranteed for any purposes nor is it to be relied on.