Kryptonite – not quite there

I came across a blog post about an interview with the General Manager of Kryptonite… one of the blogosphere’s biggest success stories, and an all around great example of how not to respond to your audience. Unfortunately, I can’t link directly to the PRNews story, as it’s no long live.  A few comments below…

Do you think Kryptonite was the unofficial poster child for companies burned by the blogosphere?

We’ve been one of the first companies hit by [the blogosphere], so yes. When these [stories] break, it’s very difficult the first couple of days to judge what the problem of the product is and what should be the adequate response. For us, the overriding principle is to look after our customers, so we tried to protect brand integrity and limit the damage to the company, which are by-products of trying to do the right thing.

See, after all this debacle, he still doesn’t get it. The “adequate response” is simple – simply respond. Kryptonite got into trouble for simply repeatedly ignoring the issue. Even a simple “thanks for bringing that to our attention, we’ll immediately look into it” would have solved the problem. Of course, there would also need to be a follow-up as well, but that would have been a great start.

The next bit is more than a little confusing – and clueless. He says that the “overriding principle” wsa to look after customers…by protecting the brand and limiting damage (i.e. liability). If I was a customer (which thankfully) I’m not, how would protecting the brand have anything to do with me? These aren’t “by-products of trying to do the right thing”… they’re protection measures against litigation. I know, they know it, let’s be honest about it.

How do you think blogs have started to impact the ways in which companies communicate with their various stakeholders?

When you are dealing with traditional media, there are some balances. The difficulty with Weblogs is that anyone can put out information in an anonymous way. [But] for any business, Weblogs are a reality, and companies have to look at what they do and be able to respond adequately to concerns that are raised in such a forum.

He’s right – the power is that everyone is held responsible. For clueless companies whose number one concern is litigation rather than creating real relationships with the consumers and improving their products, blogs are probably a death blow. Good.

And Mr. Downs, can you please call it a “blog”?

If blogs are here to stay, what’s the best PR strategy to deal with them?

Awareness that these individuals and groups are discussing your product and/or service is most important. You have to balance it, though, because of all the anonymity among bloggers, and figure out why they are putting a particular spin on things. But you have to be ready to respond if there are specific issues being addressed and [if the arguments] have enough momentum behind them.

First of all, I don’t much care for the question – “dealing” with blogs and bloggers isn’t simply part of a “PR strategy”. It should be part of the company mindset about forming relationships with consumers.

I think his response is hilarious, considering the answer to the first question (showing he still doesn’t understand the mistakes he and his team made in the initial response).

He clearly misses the point all together – if you had a better relationship with the world outside of the company walls, you wouldn’t have to “be ready”. You’d already be having the discussion.