Ethical Online Public Relations
Hedonisia conducts its operations in a legal and ethical manner. We pay taxes and keep our accounts in order. We expect the same standard from all our volunteers, interns and anyone else we work with.
Operating a company based on ethical principles is not only morally right but it is also the best form of advertising! Especially with the rise of social networking which our sustainable community has benefited greatly from.
It is our policy to have an advertising budget of zero. As an ethical business, our reputation is what ‘sells’ our services. We receive many positive visitor, social network and media reviews because of our social and eco-friendly policies and practices.
Through our website, we try to provide information about nearly everything in our community. That makes the site a little ‘information-heavy’! However, visitors appreciate our transparency and honesty.
Negative Reviews, Complaints & Hostile Feedback
It is a truism that a happy customer tells one friend, an unhappy customer tells everybody!
When the mistake is on our end, we try to immediately rectify the situation. If a volunteer or guest is on the property and has complaints, we listen to them. We have found that when you immediately act on a customer’s complaint, you can turn a potentially bad review into something more empathetic.
On many social network sites, a person can create a negative review under a false name, and have it immediately posted. What is interesting is that we’d never even registered our community with many of these sites—who actually use negative reviews as a very crafty form of marketing their business.
These sites allow anyone to post reviews about any business. Then, if the business wants to dispute the review, they must register with the site and open an account. Tripadvisor, Yelp, Ixigo, Hostelz and others all practice this form of ‘marketing’.
So we try to regularly check on social network sites to keep tabs on any negative reviews. We look for new social network sites which we didn’t register with, as well as the ones below, where we hold an account.
If we see a negative unjust review, we immediately contact the website to explain our case. Hers is a sample email response:
Recently we received a very negative review on your site which we feel is unjust and untrue. This person was not truthful in their ‘review’ and yet were able to post it without any problem. We work very hard to build our reputation as can be seen from our Media and Visitor Reviews, only to see someone who uses a public service like this to make defamatory statements.
We would like this review removed, as it is defamation. Because we did not even know it was there until it was pointed out to us, we have already lost business. Public listing sites like this allow anyone to post a negative review, even under a pseudonym, but the businesses concerned have no way of ‘reviewing the reviewer.’
We do love positive reviews and always try to rectify the situation to the customer’s satisfaction if we have a negative review that is justified.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
M. Mustapha – Director of Hedonisia Hawaii Sustainable Community
Hedonisia PR in the Local Hawaiian Community
The Big Island may be the biggest of Hawaii’s islands, but it’s not that big. If you live and work on the island, chances are you’ll be running into a lot of the same people, day in and day out. Sometimes this is a good thing, and sometimes it is challenging.
Hence, reputation matters greatly. As a intern at Hedonisia, we hope you have pride in your community. Through your own words and behavior in the public sphere, you help Hedonisia’s reputation to grow and flourish in a positive way for the future.
As a intern at Hedonisia, you are an ambassador for the community when you are out and about on the island. Your words and behavior matter! If you are grumpy and unpleasant about your role at Hedonisia in public, it will reflect poorly on the community.
If, on the other hand, you are positive and enthusiastic about Hedonisia in public, it may generate many wonderful unforeseen opportunities, such as good future volunteers, free building materials, future job possibilities, and more. The lesson here is that your words in public matter, and your behavior on this island has real consequences for the health of our community.
If an individual comes to Hedonisia and has a good time before moving to a new location on the island, when you see them later in the community it is a pleasant, friendly exchange, and all is well. But if someone comes to Hedonisia and is asked to leave due to a policy breach, an encounter down the line at Island Naturals Supermarket may not be so pleasant.
We allow interns to refer friends and even people they meet on the island as an opportunity in choosing who you get to live with!
Try to have one or two Hedo business cards with you. If you meet someone you think would be a great volunteer, intern or guest they can go to our website and apply.
Interns have 5 days off and you all meet people on the island so this is an opportunity for you to get to play a role in choosing people who get to stay at our community!
Especially visitors on the island. Many are unsatisfied with their current living arrangements. Give them a card. There are many hedo business cards in the private office.
Black, White & Grey Hats in the local area. If an individual comes to Hedonisia and has a good time before moving to a new location on the island, when you see them later in the community it is a pleasant, friendly exchange, and all is well. But if someone comes to Hedonisia and is asked to leave due to a policy breach, an encounter down the line at Island Naturals Supermarket may not be so pleasant.
Imagine you are an intern at Hedonisia. One Sunday, you decide to spend Sunday afternoon at Kehena beach, a popular spot for Puna locals. As you are relaxing, you socialize and perhaps tell someone where you are working. They respond, “Yeah, I used to stay at Hedonisia. What a bunch of jerks!”
As a Hedonisia community member you have three choices on what to do in this situation:
1) Ignore The first option is to ignore all negativity and let it play out, allows you to avoid any potential conflict, but also opens up the community—and by extension, you—to further unchecked negative publicity. Especially if the person seems a little crazy you can probably see why they are not welcome at Hedonisia!
2) Inquire The second option allows you to find out more about where the negative feelings are stemming from, so you can then follow through with the owner to verify or address these concerns. If the negative person on the beach is upset about, say, being asked to leave after ‘just trying to enjoy himself,’ it might be worth asking that person for more information.
The negative individual may have been trying to ‘enjoy himself’ by lighting a bonfire next to the bathroom and nearly burning the entire hostel down. On the other hand, they may have had a valid complaint which they did not talk about when in the community.
It’s always good in any situation to dig below the surface and find out as much information as possible before making up your mind about a given matter.
3) Engage Finally, you may simply choose to engage the negative person and head them off straight away. If someone is being outright nasty or openly insulting, this may be a good route to take. To use the previous example, “I used to stay at Hedonisia. What a bunch of jerks,” you may choose to respond with, “I live at Hedonisia right now, and it’s been a nice place for me.” This checks any negativity and provides positive counterbalance.
John our back neighbor, has been extremely generous to us over the years. Thousands of oranges, grapefruit, coffee, bananas, pineapples and guava building materials have been harvested by us. And we pay nothing for it. As well he lets interns bring visitors to his spectacular crater which is at least 20 times the size of ours!
If John bans us from going on his land, we lose a valuable community neighbor who has been so supportive of our community.
Our honor and integrity are some of our most valuable assets and so any serious damaging of disrespect of the neighbor’s land is considered a Black Hat offense.
The only times volunteers are allowed in the back is with an intern who then ensure that respect is shown to John’s property. Moving forward, when going in the back to harvest fruit or view the crater, please notify me.