As a follow up to my recent blog post regarding byline articles, it seemed a natural extension to address comments on contributed content. Today, any professional who participates in media relations – who puts their name to a fact or opinion online – should expect the peanut gallery of respondents to include supporters, doubters and a few a-holes. Comments are a good sign – it means people are reading your contributions but some of the comments can be disarming as readers can post comments without identifying themselves. As we are often helping clients get their insights and opinions heard online via byline articles, quoting opportunities, case studies and more, we are often asked how to respond to comments. Here’s my two cents. First, have a thick skin – understand that the Internet affords everyone – regardless of credentials or knowledge – to be an expert.
Second, it helps to set a policy for how to handle comments so there is organizational and individual uniformity. This includes who responds and the frequency of review and responses. Similarly, set a policy or guideline for how your organization will respond to articles from others. We typically don’t recommend addressing individual comments as it can be endless. It also sets a precedent that commenters will come to expect and that must be maintained. It doesn’t help the case to selectively respond to individuals. This is obvious, but sometimes hard to do – don’t entertain irrational, nasty or threatening dialogue.
Consider an overarching response once a few comments have posted, acknowledge the input and thank them for the idea exchange. You could even offer your email address – this detracts commenters that post without identifying themselves. The beauty of the Internet and the evolution of media is there are an abundance of channels to share expertise and opinions.