5 minute read
Teeny-teens are so cute with their confidence struggles and naivety. They spend most of their hours thinking about the elements in their lives that determine social status, and how they can or can’t achieve specific social goals. Teens, therefore, become experts in reputation management, for their whole existence (as far as they’re concerned) is dependent on where they fall in the social ladder, who they’re friends are, and what they look like. Some are really great at this (i.e. popular kids) and some aren’t so great, but nevertheless they all seem to know a little bit more about the act than us adults. We grow up, we refocus, we forget. Through film, we get to re-live those teenage experiences, woes, emotions, and learn a little about what skills we’ve lost.
Can’t Hardly Wait is the cream of the crop when it comes to essential teen movies. It all takes place in one night, at the ultimate high school graduation kegger, with a selection of love stories/bro stories playing out among the students. They manage their reputations expertly, as they’ve learned to, and their issues present some valuable lessons for those of us responsible for managing their company’s reputation.
*This piece is based on Kissmetrics’s Definitive Guide to Online Reputation Management
- Amanda Beckett & “Online reputation bombs”
Let’s start with the Queen Bey…I mean Bee, Amanda Beckett, played by J.Lo Hewitt. Amanda struggles with the backlash she receives after being dumped by football stud, Mike Dexter. No one can stop talking about Amanda’s downward status leap, whether it’s behind her back or in front of her face. Companies often get blindsided with what Kissmetrics calls “online reputation bombs.” Disgruntled customers will sometimes drop these bombs in public online arenas for the world to see, in hopes of damaging your business. It’s evil, but so is high school. How does Amanda react? With grace. She holds her head high, doesn’t show that she’s hurt by the gossip mill, and shows up at the party although she knows everyone expected her not to.
The lesson? If you get an online reputation bomb planted on a public presence, take a cue from Amanda Beckett and respond with grace and a big dose of “How may I help you?”
- Preston Meyers & “Becoming well-respected”
Kissmetrics points out that the best way to nip a negative reputation in the bud is to prove trustworthiness. Consumers who trust and respect your brand will not only skip the negative presence on your social media, but will also likely sing your praises to others. When Amanda tries to find out more about Preston, every person she talks to tells her what a good guy he is. Amanda is intrigued and continues her search.
The lesson? Truth, honor, respect…all admirable goals for a company to represent, and those aware of your brand will notice.
- Mike Dexter & “Reputation management failures”
Many have seen or heard about the disaster that was Amy’s Baking Company on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. If you haven’t, clicking here is a MUST.
After receiving negative criticism following the airing of the episode, the bakery’s owners lashed out on Facebook without any regard for their own reputation. This obviously caused even more damage to their brand than had already been done.
Mike Dexter, King of high school, thinks he’s hot s*** after he dumps poor Amanda. When he goes on a drunken tirade against her in front of the whole party, he shows his true colors, and that color is “slimeball.” Much like the owners or Amy’s, his response fails to win favor, and pushes him deeper into the hate-hole.
The lesson? Never lash out when met with criticism, and when you do meet failure in a customer interaction, the best thing to do is put your nice hat on and save face.
- Kenny Fisher & “Being transparent”
Seth Green’s Kenny is the exact opposite of what you want to do. He spends his time grooming himself into a “wannabe” as us 90’s kids called his type. Not only did he dress this way, he adopted a fake “ghetto” accent to really cement his place in the school as the worst. Kenny tries to find a girl to…get with…at the party, but is constantly rebuffed once he starts speaking. In the end, when he drops the accent and the front, he is able to truly connect with Denise.
The lesson? Transparency is utterly important in making connections and building trust.
- Denise Fleming & “Reacting quickly and politely”
Let’s back up to our first example: Amanda Beckett. Our advice is to respond to criticism with a smile and constructive mind. Denise Fleming (perpetual cranky-pants) feels inadequate at the party, and responds to any and all interactions with snarkiness and a ‘tude. This is what not to do. If you get an online rep bomb, you will need to “react quickly and politely.”
The lesson? Stay away from the Denise brand of snark and dark wit, and instead be as polite as you possibly can, taking care of the problem right away instead of letting it sit and fester.
- William Lichter & “Understanding your detractors”
William’s “detractors” are the cool kids, and his grad party attendance was an attempt to get sweet revenge on one Mike Dexter. William’s plan however has one flaw: He doesn’t anticipate Mike’s inner fragility. When Mike is taken down a few notches by his usual crew, he befriends a drunk William. In these few hours of friendship (it promptly ends once Mike is sober), William begins to understand why he’s always the butt of Mike’s jokes…Mike’s own insecurities.
The lesson? Chances are, if you have undue criticism, it has something to do with them more than it does you. If those critiques hold good reasoning, however, try to see where they’re coming from and where you might have erred. If they’re not competition, they likely have real concerns. As Kissmetrics points out, “Criticism can be the chance to learn more about your audience and craft a better message in the future.”
Nearly every character in the movie is in the process of managing their reputation…because they’re teenagers, just like each and every one of us is in the process of managing both our personal and our employers’ reputations in-person and online. For more actionable tips on the topic, please read Kissmetrics’s article.
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About the Author
Stephanie Norell is the Marketing Director for North by Northwest’s Boise office. She loves horror movies and Pinterest, adores the classic film Xanadu, and “enjoys” disseminating her thoughts for trolls to discuss online.