Confession: we’re new to Reddit. We kind of saw it as a place where people gathered to argue over whether Game of Thrones needs to be more faithful to the books before we used it to scroll through theories about the Breaking Bad finale (it’s a “degrees of nerditude” issue). But this week our friends at Solomon McCown & Company posted a story on their blog asking whether PR needs to get more familiar with the site—and the answer is definitely “yes.”
Lots of people whose names you know have subjected themselves to “ask me anything” sessions, and now it’s almost a requirement. Some AMAs are fascinating (“I am a former Amish person that left home and joined the military“) while others are strictly for the fans (“I’m Dennis from Always Sunny“) and some are a little disappointing (Hi, President Obama).
The most relevant session happened this past weekend, when Yelp‘s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman ”stopped by”. As you might expect for a somewhat controversial company, most of the action involved Stoppelman defending his business and its practices. Key quote:
“There has never been any amount of money you could pay us to manipulate reviews.”
Some other responses:
“we’re dealing with an emotionally charged issue (typically negative reviews). It presents a constant communication challenge that we continue to work hard to address.”
More than a few Redditors gave Stoppelman grief, but he handled it pretty well. And we think you’ll agree that answers like these are more effective than press releases or back-and-forths with haters on Twitter. Where else can a CEO interact with members of the public in a forum that allows for the sharing of information (see the links above) but doesn’t threaten to descend into a “dodge the tomato” contest like JP Morgan’s disastrous Twitter “Q&A?” Some participants were former Yelp employees, which made it even more interesting.
The crowd on Reddit is more discerning than most, and impressing them won’t be easy. But AMA’s aren’t the only way to use the site, either: this is where many pieces of content begin their journey toward viral status, not to mention where sites like BuzzFeed and Gawker get a fair share of their stories.
Have we used Reddit? What do we think of its potential as a PR tool?