Manual Spam

When I’m advising people in how to get started with social media, I frequently tell them to just act naturally, like they would in a face-to-face interaction. Others have said you should act like you’re at a social gathering. Just as you wouldn’t walk into a crowded room and start talking incessantly about yourself, don’t do that virtually in social networks. It’s just not polite.

This hospital PR guy is making me rethink that advice, because if he acts online as he does in this encounter with a TV reporter, he’s going to be in serious trouble.

You really do need to see it to believe it would even be possible.


Thanks to Lisa Fields for the nudge on this one. I had seen something online about a PR guy repeatedly patting a reporter, but hadn’t checked it out.

Reading the YouTube video background it seems the reporter had shown up unannounced at a hospital town meeting to ask questions related to an investigative story. The reporter had said his calls asking for comment hadn’t been returned, so he decided to try to get the questions answered at the public meeting.

If sending unwanted email messages to people you don’t know is called spam, this seems like an in-person, hands-on version. Manual spam.

Given the worldwide attention it’s receiving, it once again shows that badly handling an issue can multiply the negative effects. If they had answered the questions earlier, and if the story had come out that funds were being misused, I’m sure we never would have heard about it. Just a local TV story in San Francisco. But instead you can read more here. And here. And here. And here. And here.

On the bright side, if the PR gig doesn’t work out (and it doesn’t seem promising right now), Mr. Slavin could always seek employment in the TSA secondary screening line.

6 thoughts on “Manual Spam”

  1. This is definitely one those where the guys reaction is worse than the original situation. You’re right that the story would probably not have received much national attention if the administrator had just said no comment a bunch of times or even if the PR person had stepped in and read some statement that really didn’t say much.

    Instead, this PR person’s actions have gone viral and made the investigative reporter look good. And, if they are so aggressive about this, what are they really trying to hide?

  2. This was interesting–and at first I thought it was actually some sort of comedy routine ripe for YouTube. I think Minnesotans have it right: keep personal space and answer the questions. 🙂

    Did the investigation find anything inappropriate?

  3. There’s a part of my that wants to go back and count the number of pats and the number of “don’t touch me.” I can’t believe that he didn’t get it after the second warning.

  4. I’m not defending the PR guy’s actions — he definitely should not have touched the reporter so many times — but he’s clearly not clueless. He was obviously doing it on purpose, to try to distract the reporter and get him away from the hospital administrator. But did it work? As my teenaged son would say, “Massive fail.”

    That said, the reporter seems like a real jerk — very insistent and aggressively in-your-face. One has to wonder if there’s a history between him and the hospital that prompted the hospital to try to shut him out like that.

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