November 20, 2012

It started with spiteful emails to several people including the top general in Afghanistan telling them that a Florida socialite was “trouble.” With the help of the FBI, we learned that these catty emails were sent by a rival socialite, Paula Broadwell, David Petraeus’ biographer and (now we know) lover. This led to the downfall of the CIA Director and problems for the top general in Afghanistan.

OK, am I the only one that thinks this all sounds like the opening monologue from the TV Show Glee? Now, I’m not downplaying the importance of national security, but are we all living in “high school gossip land” where every email, Facebook page, Tweet or online comment can be shared and be subject to an FBI investigation? Well, yes, and that is why I think this is a marketing issue.

Employee emails, Tweets and Facebook comments can dramatically impact the reputation of your company. Most big firms have sophisticated computer monitoring systems and policies to stay on top of this challenge, but not small companies. That is why protecting and controlling your company image in the world of 24/7 social media is almost impossible.

You need to make it a priority to discuss with everyone in your company the importance of a professional tone and appropriate content in all online communications from company computers. I hate the idea of being “Big Brother,” but your company’s future, as always, is now even more in the hands of everyone that works for you.

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