WHEN SOMETHING GOES from the front page of a Sunday paper  to a 30-minute discussion with half a million listeners, it's easy for the message to take on a life of its own. That's how I read the current dust-up involving advice about threesomes published  by the youth site Spunout in Ireland.
It's always a problem when you lose control of your message and at the moment, that's happened with Spunout in mainstream media. The message has become a debate on whether the government should fund advice on threesomes offered by a well-intentioned charity. It doesn't matter that the item in question is three years old. It's guilt by association.
I used my American accent to ask my phone "Spunout Threesomes" and the phone returned the screenshot in this blog post. If I listed the text of the search query on my blog, Google would not allow me to receive Adwords revenue from any part of my domain.
And that, in a nutshell, is the same issue facing Spunout. I think it's a choice of pulling the threesome advice from the Spunout domain or risking the Irish Health Service Executive reducing its annual grant.
There's strong support for the Spunout brand online in Ireland and better brand recognition now that it's promiently name-checked by both the Sunday Independent and the Liveline chat show. Spunout support resonates across social networks. It's use of the #factsNotFear hashtag is clever, even though people in other countries use the tag for other purposes. But as this current little dust-up reveals, there is a wide gulf of separation between generations who use social media and those who believe truth, values and meaningful discussion lie in traditional methods, such as the national broadcaster or the national broadsheets. Few grandparents, with pension payments squeezed by current winds of austerity, would view Spunout in the same light as the regular posse commenting on Spunout's website.
I archived into Evernote both the original front page story from the Sunday Independent and the threesomes advice given by Spunout. Both are sure to generate lively classroom discussion in the Public Relations module we teach at the Limerick School of Art and Design. I expect that when my module notes are published online, the section annotated with "Advice for Threesomes" will generate a strong search engine profile on its own.
1. Niamh Horan -- "Teens get tips on threesomes from HSE-funded website" on the front page of the Sunday Independent, March 24, 2013.
2. Spunout -- "Threesomes" revised March 24, 2013.
Bernie Goldbach, a creative multimedia lecturer and a grandfather, never got advice on threesomes before reading Spunout's.