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Babblesoft founder Aruni Gunasegaram found herself in a position that any company would dread. She had launched a new product that she had hoped would be well-received by her target audience, mothers who breastfeed their children. Unfortunately, the product was immediately reviewed, and shredded, by Jennifer Laycock, a very popular mommy-blogger who blogs at The Lactivist. What happened next is a great lesson for companies wanting to handle crisis-management in the blogosphere.

Here's what Jennifer said about the software program, Baby Insights:

don't know about you, but the last time a family member had the gall to
ask me "what did you do all day" they got a talking to that made it
clear they were never, ever EVER to ask that question again. At least
not until our children were old enough to have children of their own.

Besides, when was the last time your friends and family members sat
down with you so that you could "proudly and confidently" show them
just how much time you spent feeding your baby in the last few days?

Am I the only one that wonders if this is a gag?

Understandably, Aruni was in a state of almost panic upon seeing
this. But what Aruni, and Jennifer did next, is a great lesson for
companies that want to interact with and respond to bloggers.

First, Aruni didn't get defensive and lash out at Jennifer. That
would have made a potentially bad situation a four-alarm disaster.
Instead, she contacted Connie Reece at Every Dot Connects, who was
handling her PR, to seek Connie's advice. Connie explains that

her credit, Aruni not only asked for advice, she followed it. She did
not respond in anger, but did her homework and learned something about
Jennifer, her blog, and her readers. When Aruni did add a comment to
The Lactivist, it was well received. She and Jennifer also exchanged
e-mails, establishing the basis for a relationship.

Aruni left a comment to Jennifer's post
and graciously accepted the feedback from Jennifer and her readers, and
calmly stated her reasoning for creating the product. That was the
perfect response as it made Aruni look like she was confident in her

But also notice how Jennifer reacted. In the comments section, while
some of her community agreed with her on the product's potential
utility, some thought she was being too hard on the software, and added
that they could see themselves using it.

Jennifer eventually added in the comments:

While I
could still never imagine using a program like that myself, my readers
have really given some great reasons why it's still a useful programs
for some moms....That's the great thing about this blog. If I go on a
rant without thinking something through from all angles, my readers
aren't afraid to call me on it.

Two big lessons here for companies:

1 - Even if a blogger slams you, how you respond is STILL more important. Aruni's response determined the positive outcome.

2 - Bloggers are usually pretty reasonable people. Even though my good friend Jennifer
came out pretty hard on Baby Insights, she was reasonable enough to see
that some of her readers definitely disagreed with her opinions of the

A bad product review from a popular blogger isn't always the end of
the world. In fact if you keep your wits about you, it can actually be
the start of a friendship. As Connie adds:

months later Aruni started her own blog, entrepreMusings, and she and
Jennifer follow each other on Twitter now. And to show what a small
world it is, I had dinner with Jennifer last month at BloggerSocial08
in New York. We shared a laugh over how the situation had unfolded and
how the former critic had become an ally.

BTW this episode is better explained in a great case study that Every Dot Connects just released.

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image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier