Blogging Lessons Learned – PR Gone Awry

image In his post Holy Crap! Dennis Howlett writes about the mistakes made by GlaxoSmithKline in a PR campaign for alli. You may not be familiar with the company name, but I am sure you are familiar with the name ‘alli’ made infamous by a blog post on Angry 365 Days a Year, alli: Miracle diet pill with teeny-tiny side effect. The comedic post on A365DAY mentions in plain terms the side effects of alli, that the manufacturer tries to soft peddle.

To combat the bad press, GSK hired Debbie Weil to help GSK bloggers turn the bad press around. Debbie Weil wrote the book The Corporate Blogging Book: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know to Get It Right, so she seemed like the perfect expert to GSK.

This is when things start to go awry. Dennis outlines the mistakes made by Debbie during the campaign:

When building a brand it is important to be – Transparent. Easily understood or seen through. It would appear that GSK and Debbie Weil attempted to manipulate the system and got caught.

Building a brand is about working on a relationship with the customer / consumer. The parties need to be open and honest with each other. When untruths are discovered it really damages the trust that has been built so far. It will be interesting to see what the repercussions of this incidence are, and how PR will use this lesson in the future.

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5 Responses to “Blogging Lessons Learned – PR Gone Awry”

  1. Opal: Vegan Momma Says:

    Truly my head must be under a rock I’ve never heard of alli. :-)
    I agree you have to work on the relationship and like with any relationship that will take time unless, you’re “well known,” then you’ll (usually) receive a lot of traffic within the blogoshphere.

    OT
    I finally subscribed to an RSS feed so now I’m alerted whenever you create a new post. It makes my blog visit a lot easier I’m sure you’ll see me a lot more. I really love your website. I was planning to write about you last week when I was on vacation however I did not have internet access so I’ll save it for my “heavy traffic days”. You should see that post at the beginning of next week.

  2. University Update - Alli - Blogging Lessons Learned - PR Gone Awry Says:

    [...] House Link to Article alli Blogging Lessons Learned – PR Gone Awry » Posted at Thomas – Technical [...]

  3. Thomas Says:

    Opal – Thanks for subscribing, and the compliments. It is definitely helpful to get positive feedback about what you are doing, and know that people find it helpful.

    One of the things I find interesting is that Debbie Weil wrote ‘the’ book on corporate blogging, and should have known better. She then compounded her mistake by not being honest about it.

    Personally after reading the post on Angry 365 Days A Years, reinforced the fact that I would never want to use a product like this.

  4. ed s Says:

    You can read Debbie Weil had to say about all this here.

    http://www.pharmalot.com/2007/07/is-glaxos-alli-blog-not-working/

  5. Thomas Says:

    Opal – If you were using Windows Live Writer, you would be able to write posts offline, and then post them whenever you were connected. Although, should you really be writing posts while on vacation?

    Ed – Thanks for the additional information on Debbie Weil. This is a good lesson we all need to treat as a learning experience. Blogging is so public that mistakes seem to be messy.


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