They will tell you that an organization should use every opportunity to market itself, especially if it can be done for free. The only way you grow and attract people is by letting them know you exist…right?
Trying to market yourself at the wrong time can actually backfire on you…it will put a tarnish on the public’s view on your organization as “opportunistic.”
Let me share an example…
Recently, I read an article about a soldier that had died in a training accident. The “press release” issued read like an obituary, talking about her whole life story and the people and organizations that molded her into the soldier she became. It was a wonderful tribute to this fallen hero. And one of the organizations is listed that she had been a part of as a youth was one that I was as well…which gave me some pride to read.
However, once I got down to the “comment” section where so many others were posting their condolences, I saw a comment posted by a media representative of that organization that upset me. What he had simply posted as a comment was the organization’s marketing boilerplate.
No condolences on behalf of the organization – just the boilerplate.
Okay – before I get too ahead of myself: What is a boilerplate?
A boilerplate is a paragraph usually found at the end of a press release by the organization that originated it which briefly describes the company or organization and contact information, such as a website, inviting people to learn more.
Now, think about it….
If you had just read an article that talked about the life – and death – of someone, even if you didn’t know them, would you think it was an appropriate time or place to market your organization?
Would you be inclined to “contact for more information” an organization that had been mentioned just once in the article?
How would you view an organization that dismissed the content and purpose of an article because all they saw was an opportunity to tell you more about them? Would it be an organization you would want to be associated with?
What could this person have done to make the situation better?
Well, start out the comment by offering condolences on behalf of the entire organization!
This person could have then added a very abbreviated version of the boilerplate (the original also didn’t follow guidelines for being short and concise) with a web address and left off the “to find out more…” line.
It would have simply been viewed as a comment from a representative of the organization offering condolences…putting them into a positive light and then the public may want to “click” on the website to find out more about this organization that still shows concern and support for someone that was a former member…they “care.”
Social Media has created many opportunities for organizations to advertise themselves and to now reach a larger audience, however for an organization be seen in a positive light it should not be jumping at every chance to do so. There are times, such as the example I shared, that you should steer clear of doing so. It is no different than “spamming” someone’s email box. Remember, your organization’s reputation will be based on instances like this and, regardless of how much good you do, it only takes one negative to taint that reputation.