Farewell to the Wild West?

To post or not to post? Reddit and Gawker have decided for you.

To post or not to post?
Reddit & Gawker may decide for you.

“A bad story can have a terrible impact on our reputation, and that affects everything we do and every interaction with the outside world.”

~ Nick Denton, Gawker’s CEO

Reddit and Gawker forged their reputations by pushing the envelope on what’s permissible and by their cult-like community engagement.

But as with all things, they have evolved by reining in their anything-goes “Wild West” culture.

Why? Because cash is king. Now the king is demanding change — with an emphasis on earnings that come from attracting mainstream ad revenue.

When a company’s mission shifts, so does its reputation. And in order to manage your reputation, you need to tell your story on your terms.

Denton’s memo to his staff did just that. He explained the reasons for the change, how the Internet has evolved, and that Gawker is going to evolve with it. Earlier this week, Reddit issued a content policy update quarantining certain communities whose content may be deemed “extremely offensive to the average redditors” and banning a handful of others.

You must know your audience, know who are you responsible to, and keep the message focused on what’s most important to you.

Picking sides is tricky, especially since Reddit and Gawker built their sites thus far on massive community engagement. When you change, you’re bound to alienate parts of your community (i.e. the Reddit revolt, which proved especially tricky given the unique power of its moderators).

But continuing to trudge down the same old road merely out of habit is no longer a viable option. Is what Reddit and Gawker did honestly surprising?

No, they’ve reassessed the Internet landscape and made changes needed to live long and prosper.

We’re in the middle of a big transition for media. How they handle their reputations during these changes will prove who they are as businesses.

For more on this topic, check out our recent post Up in Smoke.

“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Prep. More than half a century of expertise working with clients to resolve issues both in and outside the media’s glare — in their professional and personal lives.

You can reach Roger Gillott and Eden Gillott Bowe directly at 310-396-8696.

If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog, Insights on High-Stakes PR.

For a deeper glimpse into our world, see our book on Amazon, “A Lawyer’s Guide to Crisis PR: Protecting Your Clients In & From the Media.”

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

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