Allegedly, the producers of Shark Week actively misled the scientists they interviewed, pretending to be interested in their research rather than admitting the true nature of their filming. Then, they edited the interviews in such a way that respectable scientists appeared to be not only admitting the existence of the mythical monster shark “Rooken”, but racing a group of fishermen to catch it.
Whether people actually believe anything they see during Shark Week is open to debate, but for the sake of this post, let’s assume some people do. These people are going to a) lose several IQ points from watching the show, or b) lose all respect for the participating scientists.
But, after this has happened again, how many scientists will accept interviews for next year’s Shark Week? By misleading both, Discovery is burning bridges with both its sources AND its audience.
Social media makes it very difficult for businesses to get away with stunts like this. Scandal sells, and it gets shared, too.
By misleading both their sources and viewers, the producers of Shark Week have damaged their public reputation and credibility — and have also shown a lack of respect towards those who have trusted them. Thanks to the Internet, this is no secret.
If you don’t treat your business contacts (and your audience) with respect, the same could happen to you. Isolated incidents do not stay isolated for long because people talk. They blog, they tweet, they share with their friends. One incident of poor customer service or bad behavior can go viral, tearing down the reputation you’ve spent so long trying to build.
So, if there’s a moral to this story, it’s that lying to create more interesting content is a bad idea. More people care about Discovery’s questionable behavior than they do about Rooken the mythical shark. Is bad content really worth bad press?
What’s your take on this Shark Week stunt? Let us know in the comments!