How To Recover From A Scathing Blog Post
Jun 5 2008

Just over a year ago, we officially launched Babble Soft’s first web and mobile application (then called Baby Manager, now called Baby Insights).  A prominent blogger, Jennifer Laycock, whose personal blog is called The Lactivist, a popular blog on breastfeeding, saw the release and created a post that made me feel shocked, anxious, depressed, angry, and misunderstood at the same time.  Jennifer also happens to be the founder, editor, and a writer for Search Engine Guide, a widely read blog on all things search. 

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Fortunately, soon after discovering Jennifer’s post, I contacted Connie Reece who blogs at Every Dot Connects.  Connie helped me set up the first incarnation of this blog and gave me advice on how to get started blogging.  She is a veteran blogger and a social media guru.  I took several deep breaths, typed up something that I felt would be a good comment to Jennifer’s post and sent it to Connie for a sanity check.  She gave me a few recommendations and I posted it. 

Turns out that comment led to a few other comments and then an amicable online relationship with Jennifer when we both realized that we were supporters and donators to our local Mother’s Milk Banks.  Jennifer and I now follow each other on twitter and read each other’s blogs.  [As an aside, we offer all eligible milk bank donors a free subscription to Babble Soft applications to help them keep track of their pumped milk!]

Last week, Connie decided to create a case study on the incident and did a post called Case Study: Engagement Turns Critics into Allies.  Where she outlines what happens:

Company
Babble Soft, provider of Web and mobile software for parents of newborns

Challenge
A press release for a new product launch was picked up by an influential blogger who wrote a very negative review.

Solution
Every Dot Connects worked with Babble Soft on a strategy to engage the blogger in constructive conversation.

Success
The blogger apologized for the tone of the review and continued to interact with Babble Soft founder via her blog, email and, later, on Twitter and other social networks.

Well soon after, Mack Collier who blogs at The Viral Garden and Marketing Profs did a post about it too called Worried About Bloggers Dissing Your Company? Read This and he starts with:

“Babblesoft founder Aruni Gunasegaram found herself in a position that any company would dread. She had launched a new product that she had hoped would be well-received by her target audience, mothers who breastfeed their children. Unfortunately, the product was immediately reviewed, and shredded, by Jennifer Laycock, a very popular mommy-blogger who blogs at The Lactivist. What happened next is a great lesson for companies wanting to handle crisis-management in the blogosphere.”

Then, Jennifer decided to write her own post about it. I was just beside myself with 3 blog mentions from 3 prominent bloggers within the span of a few days!   Jennifer called her post Bloggers Need To Accept Responsibility Too and she says:

“Last year Aruni was launching her new parenting software. I happened to pick up the press release right as it went across the wires and had some pretty harsh words for the idea on my Lactivist blog.

‘Apparently, the company feels that there’s an untapped market in parents with extreme breastfeeding OCD issues, so they’ve made available some snazzy (I use the word loosely) new software that will allow these Ezzo-wannabes the absolute, total scheduling control that they long for.’

It got worse though. In fact, rereading that post I made more than a year ago I found myself chuckling and wincing at the same time. Chuckling because some lines in my post were really funny, but wincing as I realized just how biting and scathing my critique was. I’m generally a pretty easy going and nice person. I don’t tend to like to rely on snark, and yet there I was, throwing out snark like I was Perez Hilton.”

And continues:

“Ultimately, many of my readers ended up checking out the software and seeing the value in it for certain situations and while I still think the software’s a little on the anal side for the average mom, I fully recognize how helpful it could be for moms who DO need to track things.

Even more important to the story is the relationship that developed because of the way Aruni responded. Aruni became a regular reader of my blog and I became a reader of hers. We follow each other on Twitter and we’ve exchanged quite a few emails over the past year. Not long after the incident, I ended up sending her an email to share how refreshed I was at the way she handled things.

‘I want to compliment you on the way you handled your response to my blog post. I was pretty hard on you guys and you came in with class and style and really did a great job of turning the situation around to make yourself look good. I work in online reputation management and it’s rare to see a company respond so well. Just thought you should know that you gained my respect with that.’

So needless to say, I am honored at their mentions and I have learned a lot in the past year.  I hope I have at least become a better press release writer. ;-)

Personally, I think the biggest lesson that I have learned over the year is that although Jennifer’s choice of words were hard to read, her sentiments are reflective of what most new moms and parents think.  It’s not easy to introduce a new way of doing and looking at things to the truly oldest and arguably the most important profession in the world: parenthood! 

I think our applications can help a new mom having trouble with breastfeeding reach the other side of the breastfeeding bridge.  It can help her and her family understand patterns, positions, pumping schedules, etc.  But at first blush, most people don’t think of what we do that way.  The reasons why that’s the case would be a good topic for another case study! It always takes longer and costs more money to build a business than anyone ever thinks when they first start out.  Hence, my recent Fork In The Road post.

I just read a quote I can definitely relate to by James Cherkoff left in the comment section of a blog post that Fred Wilson of A VC did about sharing information on your company:

“Or in the words of Howard Aiken: “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”"

I saw it as I was finishing up this post and it made me smile  laugh out loud!

Author: | Filed under: blogging, breastfeeding, case study, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, milk banking, parenting, The Lactivist, twitter | Tags: , , , , , | 13 Comments »

13 Comments on “How To Recover From A Scathing Blog Post”

  1. 1 Connie Reece said at 12:42 PM on June 5th, 2008:

    Aruni, you have done some wonderful things in social media this past year and it’s been a treat to watch you get your wings and fly!

    Connie Reece’s last blog post..Case Study: Engagement Turns Critics into Allies

  2. 2 Mark Salinas said at 5:14 PM on June 5th, 2008:

    Great story and job well done on your end!

    Mark Salinas
    Healthy Living Today

    Mark Salinas’s last blog post..How is Your Sleep?

  3. 3 Carole said at 7:36 PM on June 5th, 2008:

    I found Baby Manager/Insights because of the post on Jennifer’s blog, so I am very happy that the post was there. The way you responded made me glad to support your company! : )

    Carole’s last blog post..Christina’s first steps!!!

  4. 4 Carole said at 7:38 PM on June 5th, 2008:

    On another note: you need to have a link to follow you on Twitter! Or at least tell us your Twitter username so we can find you…. : )

    Carole’s last blog post..Christina’s first steps!!!

  5. 5 Aruni said at 7:58 PM on June 5th, 2008:

    @Connie – I couldn’t have done it without you pointing me in the right direction.

    @Mark – thanks. I hope it helps others.

    @Carole – and I am soooo glad you found us! I wish we had thousands of supporters like you. :-) My twitter name is @aruni https://twitter.com/aruni

  6. 6 Carole said at 8:33 PM on June 5th, 2008:

    Found you! Thanks!! : )

    Carole’s last blog post..Christina’s first steps!!!

  7. 7 pearl said at 8:44 AM on June 6th, 2008:

    wow, what a wonderful story Aruni! I had no idea about any of this going on because I only read Jennifer’s Search Engine blog but I second Connie in that it’s been a delight to watch you accomplish so much in such a short span. I still remember your post on Wendy’s blog, from where you and I found each other last year :)

    here’s to your success
    Pearl

    pearl’s last blog post..How I Manage Multiple Blogs – Part 1

  8. 8 Barbara Ling said at 11:08 AM on June 6th, 2008:

    I’m always fond of saying, everyone has failed Mind Reading 101…and the worst thing you can do regarding confrontations is to *imagine* what the other person would say…and then lose the courage to start a dialog.

    Congrats on a successful resolution!

    Barbara

    Barbara Ling’s last blog post..Embrace the power of The ReTweet – Day 18 of 21 Days to a More Profitable Blog

  9. 9 thom singer said at 11:28 AM on June 6th, 2008:

    Aruni-

    This is a great reminder to people on both sides of the coin. Bloggers should be cautious to just give snarky reviews,….while those who get bad reviews should show the class and grace that you did.

    Great post. Keep up the good work.

    thom

  10. 10 Aruni said at 12:34 PM on June 6th, 2008:

    @pearl – I was trying to remember the other day how we met. Thanks for being a great online friend. :-)

    @Barbara – I sometimes wish I could find a way to pass Mind Reading 101. :-)

    @thom – thanks. I know how hard it is to interpret someone’s true intentions based on words only so I try to take at least a few deep breaths before replying to a controversial post or email.

  11. 11 Holy Social Networking, Batman! « Musings from the Mitten said at 11:06 PM on June 6th, 2008:

    [...] a tweet from Entrepemusings, who’s in my Twitter network (for want of a better term) about an amazing experience that she [...]

  12. 12 michelle lamar said at 10:40 PM on July 13th, 2008:

    Great post and it’s an excellent study in how to handle time on “the hot seat”. I think this shows why social media works. Honest communication is always the best policy.

  13. 13 Aruni said at 8:00 PM on July 14th, 2008:

    @michelle – I agree that honest communication is the best. It’s not always easy to digest but in the end knowing the truth means making better decisions in the future.