Tuesday, May 26

Dunking Public Relations: Raymond Ridder

Last Thursday, Raymond Ridder, media relations director for the Warriors, was caught posting pro-Warriors points of view as "The Flunkster Dude" on a non-franchise fan site. Once caught, his antics eventually drew a scathing response from James Venes aptly titled "The Art of Deception" on WarriorsWorld.net.

"Immediately, expectedly, the site went into an uproar over someone caught with his hand in the cookie jar, someone from the team coming in to push a pro-Warriors point of view, likely an intern too dumb to find one of the dozen Starbucks in Oakland with wifi access (trust me, I checked) to at least post without it tracing back to HQ. Oops. Big time oops," wrote Venes, before sharing how disappointed the fans were to learn the truth.

Today, it was Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle leading with the headline "Warriors brass are all Flunkster Dudes" and advising management to throw themselves on the mercy of public opinion. And so, the social media debacle has apparently moved mainstream.

"It was a laughably bad idea, with the deserved result. Then again, what good ideas are there in selling a team run as the Warriors are? How do you make a team that has missed the playoffs 14 of 15 times seem progressive and clever?" asked Ratto.

Ratto goes on to highlight just how bad public perception of the team has become, including the owner's last appearance when he was booed at the Oakland All-Star Game while standing next to his young son and giving an award to Michael Jordan; a club president who apparently wants to come across as humorless, stiff, aggressive and power hungry; and a head coach who chants "I'm not in charge" while being in charge. Ouch.

Managers Have Less To Be Concerned About Employees Than Themselves.

On the same day Ridder was masquerading as an All-Star fan, we were posting a Deloitte survey that revealed as much as 60 percent of managers believe that businesses have a right to know how employees portray themselves or their companies on sites like Facebook and MySpace. It seems apparent that managers have more to be concerned about their own behavior; public relations professionals too.

If we accept that Phil Dusenberry, former chairman of BBDO Worldwide, was right — that the "brand is the relationship between a product and its customer” — than faking posts and comments seems like an awful way to treat that relationship. Very little can be gained, even in the case of Ridder's apparent granny throw from midcourt.

Attempting to insert exclusively "pro" fake comments (or any fake comments) into an online crowd generally strengthens the resolve of the opposing viewpoint if no one finds out. And, if they do find out (and they often do), it is almost always disastrous, much more so than any unhappy fans can dream up.

So the fear factor for companies worried about what employees might say online may have nothing to do with what they say as themselves and everything to do with the great lengths some will go to remain anonymous for good, bad, or any other reason.

Fans are surprisingly forgiving, but nobody likes to be lied to. Tell them the truth. If you don't, you're likely to become the poster child for posers. And today, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, that honor seems to belong to Ridder and the Warriors' brass in the NBA. They might as well wear it proudly; it can only get better from there.


Neptune Rising on 5/27/09, 8:29 PM said...

I think this is a common business practice because I think the television networks do the same thing on the forums that they control and along the same lines if I remember correctly some people in the Bush administration staged a fake newsconference once and took alot of heat over that.
I agree that it's a devious ploy and it makes it difficult to trust the offending party.

Rich on 5/30/09, 6:15 PM said...


You're right. I'm not so afraid the truth and even had some fun reviewing some of the film reviewers for my first post back from LA.

I'm not sure it was the Bush administration, but perhaps FEMA that you are thinking of. One of my favorite little PR messes of all, and a great example why I keep telling my clients that is better not to shine up the negative. Let it stand and people will figure it out.

By the way, I'm still waiting to hear what might happen next to something I paid forward. I sent it here, but want to give them the option of what to do next.


Neptune Rising on 5/30/09, 10:35 PM said...

I'm sure you're correct about it being FEMA that staged the manipulated news conference :).
The internet is still evolving and it's too easy to mislead people.
Thanks for loaning the dvd's forward Rich, whatever happens will be alright.
We at Neptune Rising hope for the best but realize that some people may not like it.
We do what we can with what free time we have and the limited resources at our disposal and hope that it's having an impact.
We appreciate that you took part in the loan it forward and have been interested in our efforts.


Rich on 5/31/09, 7:53 AM said...


Yes, there are ample misleads on the Web. It's really not necessary. As I like to say, it's hard enough to tell people the truth. :)

As for the loan it forward program, the pleasure was mine and you made fans out of my family too.

I am sure it will not be the last chapter for Veronica Mars.


Atul C on 6/5/09, 11:28 PM said...

About lies and that sort of behavior in general it is said, "Thou shalt not be caught."
I think almost all of tell lies of various sizes and sometaimes even unknowingly. The riding dictum is the one above.

Rich on 6/6/09, 5:36 PM said...


I'm not really convinced someone can tell a lie unknowingly. The best you can do is report the information as you have it.

I know many professionals who would not agree with the idea "thou shalt not be caught." I'm one of them.



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