Why Google is Smart to Use the Word Glasshole


Google surprised a few people by using the word "glasshole" in their own guide to GoogleGlass etiquette, but using the word that your critics use is actually a good idea in the age of search engines. PR professionals used to be told to avoid the negative words used by adversaries, but if you follow that advice today you have a problem: whenever anyone googles that word they find only the websites of your adversaries and you never get a chance to get your own point of view across.

I discovered this effect in 2010 while I was researching a lecture about Crisis PR. I was looking for information about the Nestlé Boycott and realized that all the information that I could find easily on the web came from opponents of Nestlé -- the same people who organized or supported the boycott. Later I discovered that there actually was a dedicated site defending the company's position on but it was hard to find because it avoided using the most common label for this action. I tell this story in Two Simple PR Lessons from the Nestlé Baby Milk Saga.

Google embracing the word "glasshole" has had an immediate effect. Today when you google "glasshole" apart from one entry in the Urban Dictionary all of the first page search results are about the new Google Do's and Don'ts for Glass explorers. This pushes the negative comments off the first page and underlines how the company encourages polite behavior among glass users.



The lesson from these cases is that you need to stop avoiding all the negative language of your critics and opponents. Brainstorm a list of possible ways people might search for an issue related to your business, organisation or whatever and make sure that for the most common terms your response comes up in the search results.


Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

For lectures, workshops, one-to-one coaching and writing by Andrew Hennigan on this and other communication topics visit http://andrewhennigan.com, email conseil@andrewhennigan.com or call 0033 6 79 61 42 81 in France or 0046 730 894 475 in Sweden.

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