In the PR biz, you know at some point your client is going to take a hit. A product is not well-received, an executive says something stupid or your numbers hit the skids. It's just a fact of life. One thing I've always told clients at this critical juncture is, "Don't worry. Americans love an underdog."
After all, we are a nation that watched Rocky four times. Or was it five?
Right now, as we speak, one of the biggest mommy bloggers out there, Heather Armstrong, is in an all-out war on twitter (@dooce). Beloved for her brutally frank writing about mommyhood and marriage, she has over a million followers. Maytag recently learned their lesson when they tangled with Dooce. After a negative experience with one of their washers, Ms. Armstrong repeatedly twittered DO NOT BUY MAYTAG, revealing she'd been offered machines for free by other vendors.
In this very astute piece about Dooce vs. Maytag, writer Anna asks if this is Brand Bullying. She calls out Dooce's recent change in bahavior from twitter "broadcaster" to conversationalist. Before most of her tweets were just sent out there into the universe or she would occasionally reply to @blurb (her husband) and other close friends. Suddenly she began engaging her audience, using the @twittername convention to give a shout-out to readers and followers.
Tonight, there is something else afoot in twitterland. A few bloggers @lydahl and @namechanged began making negative comments about @dooce. It may not seem like it, but this is either courageous or downright crazy. It's like David messing with Goliath.
Twitter at this point is still primarily populated by people on their best behavior. You get the occasional porn bot (or more than occasional) but for the most part people are using good manners, smiley faces and exclamation points to show their enthusiasm.
Tonight, that went to hell in a handbasket. Dooce instigated a program called "Monetizing the Hate". The idea is to take all the trash talk written about Dooce, put it in one place and then "litter the entire thing with ads". So aside from the mommy blogger swag, speaking engagements, book deal and other revenues enjoyed by Ms. Armstrong, she would also make money off her hate mail. Ingenious really.
In all fairness, Dooce has said she planned to donate all the money from Monetize the Hate. Still, the idea did not sit well with some of Dooce's followers like @lydahl and @namechanged who called Dooce out in a public forum on twitter. Then Dooce's husband @blurb got involved in response to @lydahl calling their behavior #douchebaggy, saying "Stop being insecure."
A few samples of the exchanges going on in the twitterverse:
@apuraja: @blurb@dooce are you guys really so corporate sellouty as it seems? Ducking for cover as poop is thrown my way.
@sunnyhunt@blurb douchebaggy? No. Do I feel a growing disconnect? Yes. Love reading you and Dooce but growing harder to identify and enjoy lately.
Douchebaggy? Sellouty? Like a twittered down version of cursing. For now, a few little-known bloggers have become the underdog, joined by others if only in our chicken-shit minds. But the tide will likely turn at some point and @dooce will become the underdog. We are a society that can't abide too much love. Every once in awhile, we like to knock our heroes off their pedestals.
NB @namechanged isn't an actual twitter username. After seeing this post, she sent me a very sweet missive asking me to mind my own (f-word) business. Sending smiley faces to you @namechanged.
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