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The Alan Jones Experience

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Tuesday October 9, 2012 )

There are plenty of lessons to be learned by small business from Australian broadcaster Alan Jones’ current crisis – even if he doesn’t appear to be learning himself.

Mr. Jones is often referred to as a “shock jock”.

Alan Jones got himself into a bit (lot) of hot water (poop) recently when he made a rather distasteful comment about Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Goddard. No need to recount it or the circumstances here.

Bailed up about the comment, Alan Jones apologized in a manner many found unsatisfactory. He then went on to underestimate how ferocious a social media driven backlash can be.

As of the time of writing, nearly 114,000 Australians have signed a petition demanding his radio station and its advertisers “immediately cease association with Alan Jones”.

Some 60 advertisers reportedly pulled their advertising on his show before the owners of 2GB announced they would be temporarily be suspending all advertising. I’m not sure if there was much left to suspend. The show is now running without ads and it would costing a fortune in terms of lost revenue.

I think Mr. Jones has been a little surprised by the fact this isn’t just blowing over either. Regardless, Alan has since gone on to dig himself in deeper in my opinion. It’s obvious he really doesn’t understand how the Web has changed who has control of a message these days.

It’s been interesting to watch the man seemingly barrel down the road to airwave self-destruction. It’s also been extremely interesting watching the reactions to his antics unfold day by day and sometimes minute by minute.

Not all those businesses advertising on his show gave up their ad slots before coming under massive pressure from the public though.

Amid cries of bullying from Mr. Jones (it’s been alleged Mr. Jones has built his career from doing the same) and some advertisers; they reluctantly caved in under the onslaught.

A wise move, but it would have been wiser getting out at the first sniff of trouble given the circumstances.

There are few major lessons for all of us:

a) Never underestimate the potential power of handful of determined and disgruntled individuals. Two people started that petition and it grew to over 100,000 signatures in less than a week.

b) Get right away from PR disasters brought on by others where you can – your association with them can taint your brand. Be vocal in rejecting whatever distasteful situation has occurred.

c) The old saying of “all publicity is good” is a lie. It can be bad. Very bad. Whoever came up with that furphy has a lot to answer for.

While it’s my opinion Mr. Jones is now just reaping a whirlwind that may have been brewing for many years; the only thing that does disturb me is one day the crowd may get it wrong. So there’s another lesson for any of us considering clicktivism or joining a lynch mob of Outraged Consumers – check to ensure what you are raging against is real. Karma can be a funny thing.


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