Media Training Says Beware Of Social Media

Interesting story on Murdoch websites today.

“WHEN the head honcho of Nissan decided to offer himself on Reddit, you can bet he didn’t expect this kind of backlash.

But backlash he got.

Nissan and Renault chief executive Carlos Ghosn took part in a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) yesterday and, today, he’s probably wishing he hadn’t.

It seemed to start out fine. Mr Ghosn logged onto the social media platform with the invitation: “I’m the CEO of Renault and Nissan and we’re making autonomous driving vehicles happen by 2020. Ask me anything!”.

Mr Ghosn was lobbed with question by Redditors (Reddit users) but some have accused the company of manipulating the whole thing into a blatant PR exercise. Specifically, Redditor HimCaysE pointed out Mr Ghosn was cherrypicking very particular questions he would answer. Suspiciously, some questions appeared to come from accounts that were either new or didn’t have much of a Reddit history.

Another Redditor, chrisman01, wrote: “[It’s] extremely obvious, considering how all the questions that are positive and name very specific products are the only ones that get answers. Answers that all plug their products. The AMA is the most blatant PR stunt I’ve seen. Seriously, read these freaking questions and answers and tell me they don’t seem utterly staged.””

Some of the questions Mr Ghosn answered :

“Hi Carlos, I’m a diehard Datsun/Nissan fan that is very glad to see well the company has done with you at the helm and hoping to see many more years of continued success. My question is how you see hydrogen fuel cells playing a part in electric vehicles and if Nissan/Renault are investing, or planning to invest, in this technology directly or through partnerships? Thank you and regards, Doug.”

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn presents the new Titan XD truck at the North American Internation

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn presents the new Titan XD truck at the North American International Auto Show on Monday. Source: AP

“Hello Mr Ghosn, first off thanks for doing an AMA! Second, I am new to car sales and have recently been hired at a Nissan dealership, do you have any advice for a new Nissan salesman?”

“How do you intend to solve the issue of inclement weather with fully autonomous vehicles? Will they be able to deal with snow and ice?”

“Hello Mr Ghosn. As lab partners go, NASA is hard to beat. From Nissan’s point of view, what areas of research will this partnership benefit? CES showed how competitive this field is — do you expect collaboration with NASA to give you the edge? And if so, how? Thanks! Tom.”

Questions Mr Ghosn declined to answer included:

“During your time with Nissan, have you had any other type of car other than a Nissan?”

“What are your thoughts on the US government’s bail outs of the auto industry and how do you think those bail outs panned out now that it’s 2015?”

“Hi Mr Ghosn, what do you think about Google’s autonomous cars? What’s your competitive advantage?”

“Not that there’s a chance in hell, but I’m getting married in July, so can I have a GT-R as my gift?”

“What’s your favourite flavour of bubblegum?”

However, Nissan has denied that anything nefarious took place. It told Mashable that the “audience was pure” and that there was no astroturfing.

Nissan Australia had no comment to add and referred to responses from its global team.

You bet they did! We’ve been saying in our media training for some time that if you throw yourself open to the public be prepared! And maybe be honest!

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