You can spend years building an (online) reputation and it can all be destroyed in the blink of an eye. Or, you can become larger than life. Do you think we are exaggerating? Let me refresh your memory with a recent interview by the BBC that went viral.

Professor Robert E. Kelly, East Asia expert, was contacted by the BBC for an interview discussing a recent event related to South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye. It was set out to be a serious interview analyzing the situation in South Korea however; no one could imagine what would happen just a few seconds into the live interview.

First, his infant daughter entered his office dancing cheerfully, approaching the desk where Professor Kelly was in the midst of the live interview with the BBC. Without interrupting the interview, Professor Kelly tried to shoo her away from his desk and hide her from the webcam acting as if nothing ever happened. A few moments later his even younger son entered the room in his baby walker. Professor Kelly apologized several times for the “young-intermission”, trying to cover his smile. His wife suddenly realized what was going on and tried to take control of the situation as quickly as possible. Apology on apology followed and finally the Professor could continue his analysis with the children screaming and shouting from the other room.

A one minute long video went viral in just a couple of days, quickly reaching more than 20 million views! This whole video is a perfect example of how your (online) reputation can be damaged by a single event. In this case no one really blames him and it is rather amusing to witness something like this. However as a professor of International Relations at the Political Science and Diplomacy Department of Pusan National University, a man who can speak six different languages and who is recognized as an expert on an international level it came off as rather unprofessional. Nowadays everyone knows him as the man from the BBC interview. He will likely be known as this for the rest of his life, notwithstanding all the other tremendous accomplishments on his portfolio.

Surprisingly the story doesn’t stop here. This following really expresses the beauty of the internet. As a response to the failed but hilarious interview social media was completely swamped by numerous parodies. One of these parodies was released by a famous comedy show in New Zealand, known as “Jono and Ben”. This time the interviewee is the American actress Kate Wordsworth. She’s performing an (in this case fake) interview exactly like Robert E. Kelly. The same situation happens where the children enter the room amidst the BBC interview. Unlike the original video, the interview is not affected by any of the rather enthusiastic and innocent children. Watch it for yourself!

Shortly after the initial interview with Professor Kelly the BBC called him back, this time, the whole family was there for the interview. During the second interview, entirely focused on the embarrassing incident, Professor Kelly explained what happened and what was going through his mind. He admitted the video was rather hilarious and laughed hard about it himself as well.
There is no question that at the right time and place, self-mockery will help save the situation and your over-all reputation like in this case. It is likely that because it was handled so well and likely because the mishap is one that almost every viewer can relate to, Professor Kelly didn’t lose his credibility. He will continue to be acknowledged as a well-respected East Asia expert. He is also now a lot more famous than before this online mishap. But remember that not every example features a happy ending.

iRISEmedia.com is a Toronto based digital marketing agency, specializing in online reputation management. Our team helps clients monitor and improve their online reputation and branding.

The author of the post, Elena Greci earned her B.A. in Communication and Marketing in 2009 from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy. After she gained her B.A. in traditional marketing she discovered her passion for Digital Marketing . Elena then attended the prestigious school Gruppo MIDI and became certified in Social and Digital Marketing in 2016. Elena has been interning at iRISEmedia since November 2016. Her goal is to expand her knowledge and experience in the North American Digital Media Marketing sector.