For some, blogging creates a sense of vulnerability. Here you are, for all to see, voicing your opinion or discussing the work your organization does.
Who’s to say that someone won’t take issue with what you say or what you do?
And that’s the thing about blogs. They’re designed to support dialogue via the comments section.
So what do you do when you get negative comments?
Do you avoid blogging all together?
Do you ignore the comments?
Creating a Dialogue…Even with Critics
I bring all this up because, of course, I have an example of an organization that isn’t shying away from the comments section on its blog.
Levi Strauss & CO.’s corporate blog LS&Co. Unzipped offers a “behind the seams” glimpse at what’s going on at Levi’s.
Their blog came across my radar because the Levi Strauss Foundation is, of course, an NCG member. And, as a coworker pointed out to me, the dialogue in the comments section is “refreshingly candid.”
You see, earlier this summer Levi’s devoted a blog post to discussing Braddock, PA.
“When you Google ‘Braddock, Pennsylvania,’ the search results feature terms like “distressed municipality,” “boarded-up storefronts,” and “high unemployment.”…
But there’s hope here–in the work of Mayor John Fetterman and others, who are leveraging new ideas and energy to spark economic revitalization…
As it takes some radical steps to reverse its decay, Braddock is the muse for Levi’s® new Ready to Work campaign, which will feature the people of Braddock doing real work in their town.
To contribute to the real change in Braddock, the Levi’s® brand is committed to funding the refurbishment of Braddock’s community center, a focal point of the town and their youth-based programming. Additionally, Levi’s® is supporting Braddock’s urban farm which supplies produce to local area residents at reduced costs.”
Seems like a pretty straightforward CSR campaign, right?
Even though the blog post focused on the community work Levi is doing in Braddock, many of comments challenged the company on other issues related to manufacturing, jobs, as well as their CSR work.
May Not Be Agreeable, But Necessary
It was William Churchill who said,
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
So, you could say that criticism is healthy, it keeps us honest about evaluating how we are doing in our work (which reminds me, annual staff reflections are right around the corner).
Learning to listen to criticism and to engage in thoughtful dialogue with those who offer those critiques demonstrates that we’re earnest about doing the best job possible, about being the best individual possible…or being the best organization possible.
So it’s great to have an example of an organization not shying away from the negative and critical comments on their blog, but rather responding to them.
For example, here’s Levi’s responding to objections that their products are made outside of the U.S.:
“Editor’s note: A___, thanks for your comment. If you read my reply to M___ below, you know our response. As I told her, the competitive reality of this industry means that most apparel is produced outside the U.S. As you look in the marketplace for other blue jeans, I hope you’ll keep this in mind. I think you’ll be hard pressed to find competitively priced denim of Levi’s® brand quality produced in the States. Our company was founded in the U.S. and remains headquartered here. We’re quite proud of that fact and of the jobs we create — both directly and indirectly–throughout the country, and around the world.
And, here’s how they responded to someone calling saying that “fixing the community center is worthless”:
“Editor’s note: Thanks for your comment, C___. Our campaign is not just about fixing a community center in one small town. It’s about celebrating the pioneering spirit of workers everywhere. We focused on Braddock because it has such a compelling story of re-invention. We can’t fix the challenges the people of Braddock face, but the work underway there deserves attention – and that attention may, in some way, help its re-invention. We’re proud to partner with Mayor Fetterman and others toward that end.”
Of course the individuals who left those comments may not be fully satisfied with the responses they got, but the fact that Levi’s took the time to engage in conversation demonstrates that they are listening to feedback and that they will respond to pointed questions.
So bravo, Levi’s. For engaging in a candid and open dialogue with commentors on their blog.
Read LS&CO Unzipped’s Braddock, PA post online.