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Whole Foods: Missing the point

According to the WSJ:

Whole Foods Market Inc.’s board, reacting to Internet postings by its chief executive, amended the company’s code of business conduct last week to sharply restrict online activities by the grocer’s officials.

The new code bars top executives and directors from posting messages about Whole Foods, its competitors or vendors on Internet forums that aren’t sponsored by the natural-foods chain.

Here’s a better idea:  Train your employees to participate the right way.

Teach them right from wrong and how to properly represent your company.  It’s not hard to do or manage. (My company can teach you. WOMMA can, too.)

Dell, Wal-Mart, Intuit, and dozens of other companies have learned how to do it well.  They have masses of loyal employees happily representing them, ethically and effectively.

Why?

  • The online conversation has already started. People are talking about you.  LOTS of people are talking about you.  There is no way to protect or promote your brand unless you join the conversation.
  • Your employees are your strongest advocates.  Encourage their voice.  No one will represent you better.
  • Silence encourages negative attacks.  It’s easy to slam a faceless, aloof corporation. The only way to stop this from getting out of control is to join in, respond, and put a human face on your company.

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Comments

  1. The Dan Ward November 9, 2007 at 5:33 pm #

    Holy cow, talk about a knee-jerk, over-the-top, stupid reaction to one guy’s bad judgment.
    They’ve heard about this “internet” thing, obviously, but they don’t really understand what it’s about. It reminds me of a scene in A Fish Called Wanda:
    “Don’t call me an ape! Ape’s don’t read Nitzche!”
    “Yes they do, Otto. They just don’t understand it!”

  2. Daisy November 12, 2007 at 1:27 am #

    but in Eu, according to ‘Unfair commercial practice directive’, it’s illegal to post blogs or comments unless you disclose your identity and your connection with the company.
    But in internet, if the employees disclosed their indentity, who will trust their words?

  3. Andy Sernovitz November 12, 2007 at 1:47 pm #

    That’s sort of a sad thought, Daisy. Corporate employees MUST disclose who they are. That’s the only honest option. It’s the lack of disclosure that causes the mis-trust, not the other way around!