Webinar Etiquette 101...and It Doesn't Involve Cuss Words
It's been awhile since I participated in a webinar and thought I'd get back into the saddle and sign up for a digital trends webinar. I won't disclose the company's name because I don't want to give them any publicity whatsoever. The data they were presenting sounded interesting and I'm always doing market research. As a copywriter and content strategist for a boutique marketing agency, I'm always looking to hone my skills and knowledge and stay on top of digital and tech trends.
I received a few reminder emails in my in-box yesterday morning so I thought the webinar was starting right then and there! I hurried to log into the webinar and the "started" button was lit up for the webinar. I assumed that the webinar had already started. As soon as I logged into the webinar, the first thing I heard out of the presenter's mouth was the F bomb. Now this isn't a fly-by-night training company either. They have international offices and their clients include Google and big-name PR agencies. I actually know people who work for these agencies and for Google.
I was completely turned off and disgusted that a professional would use such language in a webinar. I immediately contacted the webinar coordinator via email and told him I was appalled and not to send me any more information about their webinars. I explained that as soon as I logged into the webinar, the only thing I heard was F bombs being dropped. Beyond tacky and completely unprofessional. IF I had a presenter who swore like a truck driver on MY webinar, they would never be asked back.
So the story gets even more interesting...I logged in while they were having a meeting and he was getting his presentation ready. He said it wasn't defensible but he forgot to turn his mic off. Rule #1 when conducting a webinar: turn OFF your mic if you don't want people to hear you OR don't make the webinar go live until the scheduled time!!
I will give the company credit for promptly replying to my email about what happened. The company rep apologized and said they were "mortified." No doubt, they should be mortified...and doing everything they can to repair the damage. They encouraged me to listen to the webinar and assured me that the presenter was professional. I'm not a complete ogre and I know things happen in the heat of the moment so I gave the webinar presenter another chance. I actually was impressed with the webinar and the data presented and even asked a question. Ironically, I was the only one who showed up online for the webinar. I don't know if other people listened in via the phone.
Even though I was annoyed after what transpired, I pride myself on being a consummate professional and I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. I appreciated the fact that the account manager did his best to smooth things over with me. I was exactly the demographic they needed to target, and I could have been a potential client. "Could" being the key word. I'm not interested in their services anymore!
But here's the kicker of this webinar gone wrong...
This morning I received a recording and slides of the presentation which the VP was nice enough to send me. I couldn't believe he had the gall to PITCH me their training services in that email. Really, you're going to try and peddle your services to me after what happened? What part of "your fellow employee dropped the F bomb and totally offended me" did this company NOT understand?
I thought to myself: this company really can't be THIS disconnected, can they? Obviously, they missed the communication memo with me somewhere. Yes, I gave them positive feedback about the webinar and liked the data but I never said, hey, please send me more information about your services!
After that happened, there is no way on this planet I would ever hire this company to train ME on how to better engage with MY clients via digital and social media strategies. They can't even engage properly with me in a positive way. I feel like I should be training THEM on how NOT to write down-your-throat sales pitches after you piss off a webinar participant. They threw me a bone with a freebie but I don't even care at this point.
This was my first experience with their brand/company and despite their apologies, that lame attempt at a a sales pitch slammed down my throat was the kicker and turned me off completely. I will say it again, and cannot stress this enough when it comes to reputation management and brand marketing. First impressions make a lasting impression and this company made a lasting impression on me...a negative, offensive one that can't be repaired.