When guest posting can tarnish your brand (or The night a pro sports team bullied me)

I’ve been a fan of the Los Angeles Kings for as long as I can remember. My family went to games at the Fabulous Forum, enjoyed the sport, the players, and the team long before Wayne Gretzky joined the team, and cheered (and cried) when he led the team as close to the Stanley Cup as he did. Winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 was a moment I shared with my brothers and dad – from three countries, two U.S. states, and three time zones. But in one moment, my relationship with the brand was ruined. As a marketer, I know how hard it is to build those relationships. I now know, first hand, how easy it is to lose them too.

When a brand or individual has a guest poster, whether that’s on a blog or social media feeds, it is a representation of the brand and the person you’re handing the keys to, needs to reflect the brand. A fitness blogger wouldn’t let someone who brags about their inactivity guest post, because it simply doesn’t match with their brand. A recipe blogger wouldn’t let someone who doesn’t cook guest post. I could go on and on with examples. Making sure your community, who has signed up for something specific from you, knows about the guest poster and the content the guest is sharing matches with their expectations is key, or your community is given the right to disagree (publicly) and unfollow, without repercussions.

Sadly, my beloved team didn’t let that happen; they let a bully take over.

When the Los Angeles Kings tweeted that Kevin Ryder (of Kevin & Bean fame – a Los Angeles radio show that’s been on for more than 20 years and I find crude and not funny at all) would be taking over their feed during the second period of a playoff game, I replied to the team and said I’d unfollow for the duration. That’s my right. It wasn’t what I expected from the team, it felt like a stunt and I said so. As a fan, I expect news from the team and content about the game from their feed. I expressed that opinion and sadly, the fallout from my expression of my opinion has forever tarnished my relationship with the team.

Spending the second period of a hockey game getting vilified by someone I chose to disagree with, being blasted by people who disagree with me (and that’s their right), calling me names I can’t (and won’t) repeat here, and generally ruining my enjoyment of the game simply because I expressed an opinion, makes them bullies. It attaches the brand to those people, those names, the bullying, and will reflect on the brand, forever.

So if you’re thinking about guest posters for your channels or communities, think hard about who they are, if they fit with your brand, if the content they’re sharing is what your community expects, and whatever you do, DON’T let them attack people for deciding to tune out your content while they’re in charge. They are a reflection of your brand, your brand will suffer the damage if it goes awry, and rebuilding those relationships will likely cost you more than what you gained.

I’ve forever lost respect for the Los Angeles Kings, as a result of Kevin Ryder. I’ve forever lost the love I had for a team because they let a bully take over their feed and didn’t rein him in when he started attacking fans. It’s sad. It really, really bums me out, because the Kings have brought so much to my life over the years, that to lose it in an instant at the hands of someone who isn’t even a member of the team, feels like such a waste.

I know I’m just one fan and who cares if the team loses one fan, right? As a marketer, I know the team should care, because relationships with fans (or readers, or consumers) take time and a lot of effort to build and to have it ruined in an instant means all that effort was wasted. What it would take to rebuild the relationship, is likely more than it ever cost the brand to build it in the first place.

Now excuse me while I go cheer for the San Jose Sharks (oh wow, typing that just pains me).

POSTSCRIPT: It seems I’m not the only one who took issue with the Kings’ decision to hand the keys to the kingdom to Kevin Ryder: Deadspin didn’t think too highly of it. I’m small change compared to that, since I’m sure legions of fans are pissed at the team now. And rightfully so.

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23 responses to “When guest posting can tarnish your brand (or The night a pro sports team bullied me)

  1. Pete from Fremont

    You sound like a whiny little b*tch. Please shut up.
    – Pete

    • How gentlemanly of you Pete. I’m sure your mother appreciates you calling women names when you know nothing about them. This is my space, I don’t have to shut up. You don’t like it, you can go.

      • I gotta agree with Pete here. Also, dont pull the “very gentlemanly” line. You want to be treated as adult and as an equal, then men can respond to you as they would anyone else. With that being said, you sound ridiculous. If you are such a kings fan you should have come to expect their twitter to have snarky comments. You would know it does not just feature “team news” and “game stats” … And on top of that, I must laugh at you again because you are giving up on a team because of twitter??? lol.. This has made you lose all respect for the team and now you are ROOTING for the sharks?… I am sorry. No true fan would ditch their team mid playoff series and start rooting for the other team. I think you need to grow up. You have said your piece on your blog.. I found it linked on another page so I decided to check it out , as is my right and wrote my piece.

        PS.
        When the kings beat your favorite team, the sharks… Please dont come back to our fan base…

  2. Aaron from Chino

    Yes, he should have chosen his 140 characters more carefully, but Deadspin made his tweet sound worse than it really was. I have a bigger problem with you getting all sentimental about your love of the Kings and then threatening to unfollow their twitter because a radio DJ guest tweets during one period of one game! My conclusion is that you are not a real fan at all. A real fan would either ignore a guest poster or not care and simply watched the game. Please get off your intellectual high horse for mentioning that you tried to warn the Kings, and get over it.

    • Did I say I tried to warn the team, cause I don’t see that language in my post or commentary? If you’d like to criticize, at least get it accurate. And who are you to judge if I’m a real fan?

      • Aaron from Chino

        Gena,
        “I replied to the team and said I’d unfollow for the duration”
        and…
        “It wasn’t what I expected from the team, it felt like a stunt and I said so.”
        You warned the team. I rest my case.

        Also, you clearly are not a fan of the Kings (I’m not the only one who noticed), you simply used your fake “fandom” as a clever angle in the above column to get readers on your side.

  3. Matt H. from Alemany

    Gen,

    I was reading your blog and that’s unfortunate, I’m not even on twitter or fb, because I don’t need it, but I do read Helene Elliott from the LA Times twitter because she gets the info from the games and you know that in LA hockey doesn’t get nearly enough attention. Helene rt a link from the kings to your story, and that sucks…. Kevin and Bean are not funny and I’m mildly annoyed that they would allow him to tweet on their site…. However you can’t let fanatics that can hide behind the bravery of the Internet discourage you from your lifelong passion, and trust me I remember from AHS that there were a number of days when you would be buzzing about this or that with the Kings and I was the only one who knew what you were talking about. Anyway, the way you were treated was bs but we need you now more than ever, because right now the kings are teetering…. Why don’t you get your behind to staples and you can sit in our suite for either game 5 or 7(if there is one). Comment on this blog and we’ll get in touch… Other than this bs I hope you’re doing well.

    • 1. Oh my, how the hell are you!? 2. Thanks for the heads up on Helene Elliott. I still read the LATimes, but missed her this morning. 3. The Kings are teetering, and sadly, I sorta don’t care. Bad decision making in the office leads to bad decision making on the bench, and on the ice. Such is life. 4. I would WELCOME the chance to go to Staples and watch a game. I live 1,500 miles away from L.A. these days, so it’s not as easy as I’d like. 5. What’s an easy way to catch up with you?

  4. They’ve been doing their social media wrong for a VERY long time. I wrote about that months ago. http://canuckshockeyblog.com/?p=11381
    The Kings are such a great team and their organization and players have a lot of heart – why they constantly insist on taking away from that with their inappropriate social media “Strategy” is beyond me.

  5. Save for the tweet that crossed the line, to an outsider, Ryder’s tweets were VERY much reflective of the social media policy we have come to expect from the Kings. I can appreciate your frustration, but knowing that the team has acted like this since at least the duration of the Cup run, “attacking” (or, depending on your disposition, just “joking with”) fans who go against them no matter the logo on their jersey… if you weren’t offended by it before, it seems almost hypocritical to be offended now. I would argue that, based on the success of the account, most fans know what to expect from @lakings and choose not to be offended by it. (Again, save for the tweet that visibly crossed the line.)

    The other option, of course, is to just turn off your Twitter for the duration of the second period and go from there. It’s not imperative for you to be online. If the situation is going to get out of hand, you have the right to speak up, but knowing the climate, you also have the right to ignore it completely and not put yourself in the line of fire. You chose to put yourself in the position where someone you considered a bully had plenty of ammunition to go against you instead of quietly going about your business… and while the team bears responsibility for the actions of its guest, you bear responsibility for getting yourself involved.

    Like yours, just my opinion.

  6. Wow, “Pete from Femont,” you’re classy. Reading a post about bullying and then responding by….bullying. If that’s what it takes for you to feel like a big man, then that’s really sad.

  7. All he did was post comments that you made on a PUBLIC profile. If you don’t want responses, don’t post on Twitter! I am so tired of people claiming they’re being bullied after they post things that they know will get people riled up. Welcome to social media.

    • Amy, yes, my comments were public. And I have every right to make them and have an opinion (as do you). I shared my opinion with the team, and let it go at that. I never said anything derogatory about Kevin Ryder or anyone else, beyond my opinion of him. His decision to share that is also his right. Where your argument breaks down is in the responses and comments I received as a result of that. The insults that were hurled at me were inappropriate, gross, and downright wrong. While they may be legal, they were far from ethical or expected. No man has the right to call me some of the names I was called simply because I disagree with him. If you believe that isn’t bullying, I’m sorry for you. It’s because of opinions like yours that we continue to face the issue of bullying via social media and until it’s recognized as such and not condoned by influencers like Kevin Ryder, it will continue unabated.

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  9. You’re my hero. I am impressed with you by speaking out, and doing so thoughtfully with poise and conviction.

    • Caroline, thank you for the compliment. I was fired up last night (clearly), so glad it connected with you. I’d encourage (maybe even challenge?) you to speak out yourself when you see something that isn’t right or see someone being bullied in your own world. The only way this becomes unacceptable behavior is if it’s called out and stopped, and sometimes, it takes an outsider to do that.

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