Wednesday, January 3

Managing The Message

“I still feel like a passenger on that JetBlue flight that's watching helpless on my seatback satellite TV as the plane I'm on makes a crash landing,” said one Jobster employee about the recent interest in Jobster, fueled largely by one of the most horrifically handled communication accidents in recent memory. Unfortunately, unlike JetBlue, not all passengers will be landing safely.

According to Jobster, the reorganization to better align its business to focus on the most efficient sales and support channels, as well as its Website, will result in the loss of 60 positions, primarily those supporting in-person sales and support efforts. From a communication perspective, Jason Goldberg and Jobster — which maintains their first priority was to inform affected employees who were left waiting for days to learn their fate in between ill-advised blog posts — lost much more than that.

Although it reads as one of the better posts ever presented under Goldberg's byline, one that causes me to sincerely hope Jobster's smaller and more focused vision for 2007 will return the company to the start-up success story it was in 2004, I wonder if it will be enough to erase the reputation damage it endured externally and employee morale flogging it weathered internally.

You see, reputation management, which includes crisis communication as noted in my last Jobster-related post, can be equal to if not superior to a successful product. When you lose control of it, which is relatively easy to do, it's difficult for anyone to believe your next message.

If we subscribe to the ideal that it takes 80 impressions to make a message stick (and that negative impressions are eight times more impactful than positive messages), Jobster's rebranding as a company and employer that can be trusted will be a difficult, though not insurmountable, task in the year and years ahead.

The reasons are simple enough. As much as we (especially those of us in the advertising and communication field) would like to believe that we control the definition of our company or clients' companies, we really don't most of the time.

Instead, companies are defined by everything executives and employees communicate about themselves daily (whether written, spoken, or by action); everything executives and employees say about the internal working environment; everything others (from members of the media and bloggers to customers and competitors) say about the company, whether real or perceived; and everything other companies (primarily competitors) say about themselves, which causes people to wonder if the company measures up.

At the end of the day, you add up all these messages and therein lies the "real" (not self-perceived) definition of a company. While there are strategies in managing all these messages, most companies or even advertising agencies do not know where to begin. I'll work harder at sharing some insight here and there for those who care to know; most answers take longer than the single confines of a post to appreciate (and that's not to say I have all the answers), starting with eight questions to ask yourself if you are managing your reputation, which I'll share tomorrow.

To all the other social media experts and bloggers who have contributed to (and will continue to contribute to) this living case study, my gratitude. To all the folks remaining at Jobster who read my posts, I sincerely hope you did not find my criticisms and comments too harsh, but an attempt to provide objective commentary. To Jason Golberg, I hope you keep up honest blogging, perhaps though, with a bit a more sensitivity to the message you want people to read. And to all those who are being asked to leave Jobster, this too shall pass. Good night and good luck.


CHIC-HANDSOME on 1/3/07, 2:41 PM said...

happy new year

Joe Goldberg on 1/3/07, 9:58 PM said...

Hi Rich, thanks for the quote and link. You might want to link directly to that post, because it's going to slide off the top page of my blog sooner or later:

I appreciate your take on this situation, you've been one of the few sane voices among the rabid blogging echo-chamber.

Joe Goldberg

Rich on 1/3/07, 11:35 PM said...

Thanks Joe. I appreciate it.

I'm also glad to read that you were not laid off today. Your analogy was spot on. Best to you and the twins. Good luck with the daunting task ahead.

Rich on 1/4/07, 11:25 AM said...

Famous Last Words:

"The biggest battle of our professional lives all comes down to today. Either we heal as a team or we are going to crumble. Inch by inch, play by play, till we’re finished...", found by Shannon Seery at


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