If You Allow Comments, For Goodness Sake ALLOW Comments

If you’re going to encourage your clients to interact with you, for Pete’s sake do it right.

Silenced I was talking to a fellow communications professional this week when she mentioned a recent effort her employer had undertaken. They posted a series of videos on YouTube giving their perspective on a high-profile issue and opened comments on those videos.

All good so far.

However, she then mentioned that they hadn’t allowed any negative comments to be posted. None. Not her choice, but that’s the way negative comments have been handled. She also mentioned that this hadn’t gone un-noticed – that people had posted comments saying “we know you’re censoring comments.” Of course, those weren’t published either.

So far the employer seems to have gotten away with it. Coverage of the videos was positive in general, and I haven’t seen any blog posts calling them out for their censorship.

There’s a lot of potential for a backlash here though.

I wrote a post a while back entitled 8 Questions To Ask Before Using YouTube As A Communications Tool. My third thing to consider: “How will you handle comments?”

“First, are you ready to accept negative comments? Assuming you enable comments, how will you respond to them? And who will respond?”

If you’re not prepared to have a genuine discussion, including allowing respectful disagreement, don’t enable comments.

The employer is asking for trouble. If they continue to communicate this way it will come back to haunt them.

(Photo credit: Gitgat)

  • You’re bang on – the only time to not approve a comment is if it’s spam, flame or completely off-base with the discussion.

    If I commented on this blog post with “I like toast”, I would expect you to can it!

    Rather than censoring, the employer should respond to the negative comments in a constructive way. It’ll have a greater payoff in the long term.

  • I agree with Rick, although I’d add that comments that are not spam but an an obvious sales pitch to your readers are also fair game for moderation.

  • This also raises a bigger question about PR ethics. As professionals, if we create an opportunity for our publics to provide feedback in an open forum, we must follow through. Otherwise, we are being deceiving.
    Not only can censorship hurt the company, it can hurt our professional image.