A little while back, we lauded American Apparel for publishing their Hate Mail on their company blog. A few days later, the SearchAnyway blog posted about blogging toward a positive image, and mentioned our stance on leveraging negative opinion in your favor. They then went on to elaborate on our own point, saying:

In doing so, not only do they come off as the antithesis of corporate arrogance, but they really detract from the criticism that consumers make. First of all, most people write complaints when they are in an aggravated state. […] By letting them publish their belligerent rants, you not only make them seem less credible, but all similar crtitiques less credible.

More to the point, however, by freely airing those criticisms, you make them seem like less of a deal and, therefore, less of a problem.

The implicit brialliance of this is that it employs a kind of reverse psychology on both the public at large and you market base. First, you deflect the ire of your detractors back onto them, and secondly, you put yourself above their criticisms by actually lending your critics a voice. But as SearchAnyway pointed out in a comment on their own post, there also a more upfront tactic involved in employing this kind of reverse psychology:

Web 2.0 aside, I guess what corporations never understood is that if you fess up and concede you blunders, it lends you a human element because all humans are fallible, and that can be invaluable when it comes to courting your target market.

To us, it is this human element that seems to really be the deal closer on all things that are marketing, PR, and Damage Control. As Mitch Joel (god, how I love using this quote) has said:

A Blog is the glory of a personal voice – warts and all. That is why people are gravitating toward them. Deep down, we want companies to speak our language. […] We want to know that business cares about us and treasures our loyalty. We want more… and we’re starting with a conversation that has a human voice behind it.

The most striking feature of that human voice, moreover, is the underlying implication that you’re capable of caring about the consumer. More explicitly, however, by airing the criticisms of your detractors, you’re not just showing that you care, but that you care so much that you actually be the one to give them a voice.

In sum, air your dirty laundry on a blog because:

  1. It shows that you have nothing to hide.
  2. It detracts from the detractor.
  3. It detracts from the criticism byshowing that you’re not worried.
  4. It makes you appear more human because humans are fallible, and you’re acknowledging your shortcomings.
  5. It shows that you actually care (a human emotion) about what others think of you.
  6. It shows that you care so much that you’ll actually help other human beings express how they feel.

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