How in the hell did our PR team think it was a good idea to do an AMA?!

What is the worst piece of software you’ve worked on and why is it Lotus Notes?” starts off an IBM Developers’ Ask Us Anything thread on reddit.

They probably thought: shit, we weren’t planning for it to go this way.

The majority of the thread is then talks about how one of IBM’s products, Lotus Notes, is 


Before reading this thread, I had no idea what Lotus Notes even was, or that it even existed. But now, I know that it is literally the devil.

Below is the rest of the page long rant for context


So, is it really true that any PR is good PR? After reading it – I know now what the product does (or attempts to do), which is fantastic for the purpose of PR. However, I’ve become permanently disenfranchised with the thought of using any Enterprise Software from IBM. So I think the proper framing of the question is this: “is any PR good PR in the internet era” where information is so readily available and a critic is a tweet away from starting a #hashtag campaign against you.

IBM isn’t the first to fall victim to this. Many others, both companies and individuals who initially thought that doing something like this would be a great idea – end up getting the skeletons brought out from the closet.

The challenge is that when you put yourself in a vulnerable position like that – you have no idea and no control over what people are going to be saying about you or your company.

Here are some famous examples of massive reddit AMA failures.

Woody Harrelson’s AMA


Ann Coulter’s AMA


Even Google and their Site Reliability Team aren’t excluded from the fire.


PR LifeProTip: You cannot predict what the internet will say about you, nor can you try to control the conversation. In this era, everything is a Google away. If you’re not ready for that – then simply don’t do it.

But say you went for it anyways and things are taking a massive turn for the worse. What can you do? Is all hope lost?

Fortunately, at the end of the day – the people behind those comments are still people. Yes, there will be trolls out there, but in a public forum, the greater good will prevail over trolls.

Here are 4 key insights to keep in mind that will ensure that your AMA is well received, whether good or bad.

  1. Be Authentic – the thing most companies and people want to do during AMAs is showcase a perceived idea of who they are, rather than simply being themselves. If you try to come off as perfect, rarely is that going to work. At the end of the day, we are all humans and want to be able to connect with each other. Being authentic gives the readers a chance to do this.
  2. Accept Responsibility – Too many times when a hard question is asked about someone’s personal decisions, it seems easier to avoid answering, but the truth is, sometimes people just want to know that you acknowledged what you did and know that you’re taking responsibility for it.
  3. Engage – reddit is not a place for you to just constantly promote your product or service. It’s a community of people who want to learn more about you. Engage and reach back to people. The amazing thing about reddit, and especially AMAs is that it is the one place where anyone in the world can have a chance to interact with you. Use this to your advantage. Don’t – and it will be the last time you want to do an AMA.
  4. Try not to avoid questions – It’s easy for us to cherry pick the easy questions that make us look good to interact with, but avoiding the hard questions will more likely than not get you called out.