This weekend I spent some time looking for Iraqi reconstruction videos on YouTube. I couldn't find anything worthwhile. Spirit of America had some, but they need some work. I wrote an open letter to CENTCOM about and followed it up with another post. This morning, I got a real brain wave and searched on "Halliburton" knowing ahead of time what I would find.
Reams and reams of videos blasting Halliburton. If you believe all of the videos, they're poisoning our troops, stealing millions of dollars and, for all I know, devouring live kittens. I didn't have the stomach to wade through more than a few pages of search results.
They're just a business. Among other things, they've found a niche in construction projects in dangerous places. They've got a great competitive edge because they hire lots of ex-military folks who know how to handle themselves in bad places. They can charge a lot because there isn't much competition. The threat of death turns out to be a high barrier to entry.
And no, I don't want to receive endless screeds about how they hired the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse for board members.
My point is, organizations need to be aware of what is out there on the web about them. In any PR campaign, you can't let someone else define you. If lies come out, you need to respond immediately. CENTCOM and Halliburton are still living in the Judy Woodruff world of information distribution. They think they can go on Sunday talk shows, do interviews with magazine journalists or put ads in the local newspaper and counteract all of the bad press. That just isn't true any more.
The top Halliburton video, a trailer for a film called "The War Profiteers" had more than 224,000 hits. How many people will read a one or two sentence quote from the Halliburton exec on page A-13?
Halliburton will make money no matter how many video tantrums people post. The job they do needs to be done and there just isn't anyone else to do it. That having been said, I don't think it's a good idea for a company to allow their reputation to be smeared endlessly without response.
Ford, on the other hand, gets great YouTube play. If you remove the political videos dealing with Harold Ford, Jr., you get things like this.
Totally cool. 68,000+ hits and favorited 314 times. I love it. I want one.
How about your organization? What do they look like on the web?