CrunchGear.com reported on Belkin’s response to last weekend’s “shilling fiasco”. You can read Belkin’s full response to the public here, but we’re just going to take a quick look at the steps Belkin’s president, Mark Reynoso, claims the company is taking.
But first, a fair warning to CrunchGear: Had you missed it on this one, you’d have a reputation crisis of your own. Pointing out individuals/companies without factual verification is opening the door to potential error, lawsuits, and damage to one’s reputation. A easy solution for this is to liberally apply the word “allegedly”: “So and so allegedly paid users to give positive reviews.” That is easier to swallow, because it communicates that you have not verified the information yet, but are passing along the rumor.
Having said that, let’s take a look at Belkin’s public statement about the Mechanical Turk fiasco:
We want to stress that this is an isolated incident and to re-instill trust with you, we have taken the following courses of action:
- We’ve acted swiftly to remove all associated postings from the Mechanical Turk system.
- We’re working closely with our online channel partners to ensure that any reviews that may have been placed due to these postings have been removed.
It’s also important to recognize that our retail partners had no knowledge of, or participation in, these postings.
Once again, we apologize for this occurrence, and we will work earnestly to regain the trust we have lost.
- Acknowledgment of the need for rebuilding trust
- Removal of ads
- Removal of paid recommendations
- Protection of partners’ reputations
- Sincere, straightforward apology
- Humility (again)
- Addressed by President of the company
Time will tell how effective this strategy was, but I commend Belkin for conducting reputation repair from a non-defensive posture. Some executives have an irrational sense of “no one can touch me” syndrome, which will ultimately lead to even hairier scenarios before all is said and done. The attitude of Belkin’s reply is commendable, though the scope or reach of its message may not be able to compete with the reach of its crisis. Ultimately, the news of a scandal spreads faster and farther than an apology or a retraction.
Lesson learned? Proactive reputation monitoring and building would have caught this fiasco within the first hour of posting, and could have prevented most, if not all, of the damage done.
Are you paying attention? THIS is why you can’t afford to assume it won’t happen to you. This is why you can’t afford to wait until something bad happens. Repair is more expensive and costly than building.