As social networks continue to grow on a daily basis, one thing remains constant:
Expectations for transparency and honesty are on the rise.
Marketers, please keep in mind:
Apologies and/or explanations are more forgiving than cover-ups.
Auburn University and Gus Malzahn, Auburn’s Offensive Coordinator are likely going to find this out – the hard way. Kristi Malzahn, wife of Gus Malzahn, is the subject of a video that went viral a few days ago. Kristi Malzahn spoke at the Summit, a Christian conference, on Oct. 6. and was promoted to speak about “her passion for Christ, through authentic and intentional living in the wonderful world of coaching football.”
The interview, we can only assume, did NOT go as planned.
The Summit originally posted the video on their site, however, it was removed a few days ago with no explanation. This has led to speculation and even more intense ridicule. And since the Summit had no qualms about posting the video in the first place, it would be easy to jump to the conclusion that there has been pressure from either the Malzahn family or the Auburn family to have it removed, as it represents both poorly.
So, what was so bad?
In her 30-minute interview, Kristi Malzahn covers the gamut from raising serious concerns with Auburn’s recruiting practices to saying that 18-22 year old kids are not the most intelligent people out there. She calls Auburn fans, “freaking nuts,” states that Gene Chizik, Auburn’s head football coach, did not want Cam Newton, refers to the National Championship as the State Championship and even begrudges Lou Holtz for his lisp.
CLEARLY, something is desperately wrong here. So, simply address it. Explain that she had a bad day, or she took the wrong medication or maybe she forgot to take her medication. Anything. The public is forgiving of mistakes – but not cover-ups or trying to sweep it under the rug. Which is exactly what someone is doing. There seems to have been an all-out effort to remove everything short of Kristi Malzahn’s vocal chords.
Within the past few days:
The Summit deleted the video from their site (above) and removed it from Vimeo:
Kristi’s Twitter account (which she touts in the video) was deleted:
Kristi’s Facebook account was deleted:
The video on YouTube which generated more than 130,000 views in about 48 hours was deleted (which, for the record, simply looks as though they are trying to hide something):
But unfortunately, as we all know… once on the Internet, “ALWAYS” on the Internet.
That one video has now been replaced with (as of today) “seven” more which have generated an additional 80,000+ views:
Further, the top two results, when you do a Google search for “Gus Malzahn” (who has coached since 1992 and helped lead Auburn to a National Championship just last year) is about, you guessed it, Kristi Malzahn’s video. The top one being an article in Sports Illustrated on SI.com.
Marketers, please take heed.
The public relations world has changed forever. To simply “ignore” or “spin” a situation is not a viable option.
And to attempt to keep things quiet, simply guarantees they will get louder and louder.