The Challenges of a Real-Time World: Handling a Small Crisis

Yesterday evening – just before calling it a day – I received a mail from SlideShare, saying Altimeter Group Network uploaded some new content. If you follow someone on SlideShare, you know what kind of mail I am talking about. So, I went ahead, watched and downloaded the content and wrote an article (back ‘live’ now) about the topic. It turned into a small crisis that can serve as an exercise for how you would handle a glitch.

As I write this, I’m starting my day and going through my mails, and I notice I wasn’t supposed to write about the document at all since it was meant to go online today instead of yesterday. Indeed, the link on SlideShare doesn’t work anymore.

AltimeterSlideShareIn a nutshell: I was (too?) fast and ‘broke an embargo’ as some put it. The thing is that of course I broke no embargo at all since I never received a press release or anything to start with, but it seems the post ‘upset’ some media and bloggers as I discover now (darn timezones). I guess they received the press release with the embargo (update: that’s indeed what happened and it seems I was considered to have received it as well so no harm done). Stuff happens and we repair what’s broken. The question is how.

Handling a small crisis: an exercise

For those I appear to have upset I can’t really say ‘sorry’. All I can say is ‘oops, mistakes happen and are picked up fast in a real-time world, even if not intended, I feel bad because you feel upset’. The message? Mistakes happen and marketing consultants that blog and follow up their stuff fast and with passion if they like something, can sometimes be a challenge in a fast-paced world when there’s a glitch. So can consumers be. And the result can be a small crisis you need to handle properly.

So, welcome to a real-time world where a silly post can turn out to be a small crisis. Are you ready to handle it?

How I reacted? Simply by writing this post, saying sh*t happens, redirecting the mentioned post to this one temporarily and requesting others that republished the post to do the same. Altimeter reacted in another way of course (as I wrote the post, not them) and we got it sorted out nicely (thanks Rebecca).

Anyway, regardless of the details, I wonder if you have a scenario about how you would react if someone in your company by mistake put something online too fast – or that wasn’t supposed to go online at all? I’m interested, really, this can be a good exercise for you to do.

  • Roy

    Actually, one might wonder, why do anything at all with embargo’s. You send me stuff (won’t say shit in this case) and I’m the one obliged to act as you like with that? Whack.

    In this case you weren’t even the one who made the mistake, but the person ‘publishing’ the presentation, since you probably weren’t the only one seeing that presentation dropping in your in box by Slideshare.

    Still, you are completely right on the solution, just correct, apologize and make sure that this won’t happen again, and make people aware that shit just happens, no matter how good, smart or cooperative you are.

  • J-P De Clerck

    Hey Roy, thanks for your comment. I know what you mean. Been a publisher for ages and know the game of embargos very well, you know how it is, all part of a broader seeding and PR strategy ;) Good though that you raise the question if it’s still relevant nowadays. It does work, that’s for sure. Altimeter knows what happened and Rebecca handled it well so no sweat. Yes, I could have left it online but who cares anyway? :) I’m not a jerk (well, I am but in a reasonable way LOL). As you say, shit happens. Good thing it does, it would be a boring world otherwise. I’m really interested in knowing how people would handle it, I know how I would if I was Altimeter but that doesn’t count. I’m biased ;)