Credibility is a fragile flower. You need to nurture its growth and then protect it from harsh winds.
A couple examples. The post I put up last night had a couple key Iowa political events mixed up. It was Jim Nussle, the Republican running for Governor who had the rotary conflict and his opponent Chet Culver who aced him by offering to change dates. Here’s the story. I owe an apology to the Lamberti folks for mixing up their candidate with Jim Nussle. I am fixing it now, as soon as I am realizing I mixed facts.
There’s that correction and accurate story. Still a great marketing message just wrong character’s names.
Now…onto the Lamberti lesson. Jeff Lamberti is eager to have President Bush appear on his behalf. It’s been an ugly race…and who doesn’t like having a big name endorsement, right?
Well, an endorsement is a marketing tactic that only works when it sounds credible. We’re all a little suspect of them — wondering if the endorsement is a paid spokesperson (like Jessica Simpson for Proactiv — paid or happy customer?) or if there’s an angle we are missing.
So, we listen carefully. And we weigh the strength of the endorsement on the speaker’s sincerity and how familiar he or she appears with the product, service or in this case, candidate.
So when President George Bush calls the candidate by the wrong name (Dave) a couple times, it speaks volumes. Take a look at the White House’s official website, where Bush’s speech about Lamberti is cataloged. They STILL have it wrong.
So….when you have done something that threatens your credibility, what do you do?
- You correct the mistake honestly and quickly (like this post addressing the Lamberti/Nussle mix up in my earlier post. Bush should have done so on his website.)
- You apologize sincerely and as publicly as you made the error (I have done that here and in an e-mail to the Lamberti staffer who first notified me of the mistake and in his comment on this blog. Again, Bush should have written a letter to the editor or done something to erase the fact that he’d called Jeff the wrong name.)
- You don’t dwell on it,, but move forward in your usual credible way. You re-earn people’s trust by being authentic. (That’s for the audience to dictate, not you.)
People will forgive you the mistake and let you quickly re-earn their credibility by just owning up to it. Could I have just deleted the post and avoided the embarrassment of the error? Sure. What would that have said to any of you who’d already read it? Or heard about it later?
I hate this time of year with all the political backstabbing and half-truths. But there’s always the silver lining — lots of good marketing lessons to be learned!
Pictured is candidate JEFF Lamberti