[Guest post by Stacey Cornelius]
There’s an old saying in marketing circles: you can’t control your message.
And there’s a new reality: in the world of social media, stories appear, go viral, and disappear in a matter of days.
That’s good news if your message ignited a firestorm and you ended up with a large dent in your reputation. It’s also good if you were trying to divert attention away from some less-than-ethical business dealings.
It’s not so great for the people trying to create real and lasting change.
With controversy comes opportunity
The smoke from the short-lived partnership between the National Wildlife Federation and Scotts Miracle-Gro Company is already beginning to clear.
The irony is the quick end to the controversy over the “Be Out There” sponsorship is also a lost opportunity.
Both the NWF and its membership have the rare chance to ask some critical questions. About priorities, about the future, and who will shape it:
- What does real leadership look like?
- What would you do if you were offered the chance to influence the future of a company with 50 million customers?
- What offer could you not refuse? Where do you draw the line? How do you change the line?
- What happens when a group of like-minded people gathers, expresses outrage, then disperses?
- What does it mean to be part of a community in times of conflict?
- How do members really see organizations like the NWF?
- What responsibilities does it have to its membership?
- What responsibilities does the membership have? Is it a two-way street?
- What happens to the status quo when the quality of engagement is measured in seconds?
- Where does legacy fit into that picture?
Social media gives individuals the ability to draw international attention to an issue in a matter of hours. Gather enough voices, you also have the power to influence communities, businesses, and even government policy at a national level.
One question remains: what will you do with that power?
[Stacey Cornelius is an avid gardener who lives near the woods in Nova Scotia, Canada. When she's not digging in the dirt, she writes about marketing for creative humans.]
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