Via @mattsingley whose blog post brought this to my attention, I learned that on MLK Day Penelope Trunk aka, The Brazen Careerist, wrote on her blog about attending a rodeo where she witnessed several actions, one which she called racist, and the others which, because of their religious tone, offended her.
She then sent out a tweet calling out McDonalds.
According to her, McDonalds was listed as a sponsor on the ticket stub and Ronald McDonald played a role in the rodeo.
She made no attempt to contact McDonald’s; she just fired off a blog post, a tweet, and a request for others to retweet.
It turns out that McDonald’s didn’t sponsor the rodeo, which to her credit, she published as an update. More than likely it was a local franchisee and they were sponsoring the children’s pre-show, not the rodeo itself.
Every since the blogosphere gained traction, many people in social media have derided the Main Stream Media (MSM) as being biased, sloppy, and missing many stories. A few have sneered at MSM’s practice of verifying facts.
I’ll stipulate that there are those MSM journalists who are poor performers and do a lousy job. That’s true of all professions. But, by and large, the overwhelming majority of journalists treat their profession as a craft. One of their tenets is that the check before they publish. A tenet that social media practitioners should follow.
Had a professional journalist been in Penelope’s shoes, I’m confident that she would have contacted McDonalds for a statement. Then she would have discovered that McDonald’s was not a sponsor.
But in the meantime, McDonald’s brand was unfairly smeared before the thousand of people who follow Penelope and those people who read the more than 250 retweets of her original tweet.
When you’re out there on Twitter, MySpace, your own blog, etc. and you think you have an ax to grind with a particular person or organization, do your due diligence first. Penelope jumped to a conclusion here and that conclusion turned out to be wrong.
It reminds me of a saying about “the harder right versus the easier wrong.” If you find yourself in a similar situation, have the courage to reach out to the organization and get their side of the story. If they fail to respond, then you can write about that. Failure to seek their side is either incompetence or laziness.
Do you really believe that any American corporation would knowingly sponsor an event where the announcer and other actors made the kinds of comments she described. I’m disappointed in Penelope. I would think someone with her background in the business sector would have realized that.
Before you publish, verify your facts before you wind up damaging a brand, a career, or a reputation.
I’m not sponsored by McDonald’s but you can still follow me on Twitter. I’m txglennross.