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Priorities of the communication team

What is important spin or real communication ? You decide link


We have had some unexpected time pressures on communications team this week, which involves the tech team news release and

a press release being launched about CouchSurfing surpassing 1 million positive experiences, which are currently taking priority.

This safety news item is then the next priority.

18 Responses to “Priorities of the communication team”

  • gotta love mandie m, she seems so inept and inefficient in her “work” yet her blinders work wonderfully, never lose the happy hippie attitude.
    if you work in communications and pr, you are supposed to be able to finish things quickly, after all, anyone can write a half decent press release or newsitem, the key is doing it fast. having time to communicate an excuse why she cant get the job done was possibly more time consuming for her than just doing the job for people with a more professional attitude.

  • In the same thread: “as there is already one recent rape within CS that i have been made aware of…” :(

  • Since when is security a lower prio than a press-release?

  • Since there is no harm in informing surfers of the safety items next week instead of this week, while a press release about the 1 million experiences is time-sensitive. I probably the only one here who thinks that makes sense :)

  • @walter

    why does it take one week to do it? why is safety such a recent issue?
    work is not getting done, top down lazyness and ineptitude shows.
    if it takes more than an hour to write a newsitem, its the wrong person for the job.

  • @ Walter

    Any media story about Couchsurfing is a typical filler which can sit and wait for a week, a month, a year; you just need to update whatever you use as eye catcher. It’s not like the landing on the moon, or the Second Coming of Christ: you haven’t “missed it” if you don’t use it within 24 hours. If an editor decides to run the story next month, they’ll use something else for the headline. The “million experiences” isn’t a “real” event, like having one million customers in a supermarket, with bells ringing and balloons flying. And all stories about Couchsurfing are about a handful of individual examples anyway: that’s what people care about, that’s what they can identify with. The human factor.

    I’ve been in journalism, and corporate communications, enough to know that organisations like this pass those numbers marks all the time, and it has little “news value”. Every editor will realise that too. That you portray it as “time sensitive”, taking priority over safety issues, suggests to me that this is what you’ve been told “officially”, and that your group dynamic does not encourage critical or dissenting views, so nobody doubted it. I do.

  • From the Rachel (New York, New York, United States)
    Sent 26 March 2008 – 20:28
    the Rachel is a Verified Member

    Important Safety Notice
    The first question many people ask when hearing about Couch Surfing for the first time is “Is this safe?”. If you look at the overwhelmingly positive statistics that members report, we can say, “Yes, it is!” We believe that our community is safe is because each member makes safety their own responsibility. Our features such as the referencing system and the available information on profiles allow you to make your own informed decision about a member.

    The Member Disputes and Safety Team may occasionally take special action to keep the community informed. Today, we want to tell you about a CS user who has abused our terms of service, and explain the scam this member is alleged to have used. We’ll also offer suggestions for what you can do to protect yourself and the rest of the community.

    Please Be Aware
    We have received police reports and several complaints from members alleging that a Couch Surfing user has stolen money and personal items in Europe. This user introduces himself as Kurt, and he has adopted several different last names including O’Brian, Dietric, Dietrix, Canuck, De Sutter, and Lehder. He claims to be from Canada and/or Belgium, and claims to be of Australian Aboriginal descent. He sometimes claims to be a political scientist, or of higher education. To our knowledge, he has only traveled in Europe.

    Members report that Kurt attempts to avoid CS’s safety measures in one of two ways. He either makes contact through a newly created profile, or he contacts members from outside the CS website, using the phone numbers or e-mail addresses listed on their profile. Members report that he attempts to take advantage of their sympathy by telling them that he has been robbed or has had recent tragedy such as an ill friend or a parents’ death. He then asks if they can host him at the last minute even though he is a “new member” or they haven’t seen his profile.

    Protecting Yourself
    Please only accept Couch Requests through our website, and never over the phone, via personal e-mail address, or instant messenger. If contacted by a member outside of the CS system asking to surf with you, please insist that they send you a couch request through the CS website before you can say yes to them.

    Second, always review the complete profile of each member you host or surf with, including the references others have left. If a member has a negative reference, it’s vital for you to read it so you can make an informed decision about whether to host or surf with that person. Please remember if you have a negative experience with another member of this site, it is your duty to leave an honest, factually worded reference. Your reference could help to protect another member! If you are a new member of this community, we also ask that you fill out your profile thoroughly with identifiable pictures in order to ensure you can be regarded as a trusted member of our community.

    Third, while we all want to help people, especially when they claim to have experienced a tragedy or theft, you should never feel compelled to host a member, especially if you have any concern about their profile.

    For more advice, please read through our safety tips.

    If you have been affected If you have been the victim of a crime committed by any member, we urge you to file a police report. If you are traveling in a place where you believe you would receive more assistance from your own nation, please contact your embassy.

    Whether or not you have filed a police report, if you have been affected by Kurt or witnessed any crime by another surfer or host, please notify the Member Disputes and Safety Team via the Contact Us page, and choose the “Problem With Member” option. We can only act on first-hand information. If you know of another member who has been a victim, please urge them to contact us directly.

    While an incident like this is extremely rare, Couch Surfing is part of the real world. We will continue to do everything we can to help members keep themselves safe. If we work together to stay aware, CS will remain a secure place for everyone to continue experiencing the joy of hosting and surfing. Thank you so much.

    Member Disputes and Safety

  • spanish omlette
    “In between meeting me and dropping me off at the hostel, we managed to flirt up a storm at the tapas bar and he kissed me in the car on the way to the hostel. I also find THIS amusing, because my love life in North America is a train wreck, but give me 2 hours in Europe and I can fix it right up! First guy I meet. Who´d a thunk it?”

    “Friday I checked out of the hostel and went to his place, somewhat excited to see him but also somewhat apprehensive about staying at the house of someone who kissed me the day before, lest he get any funny ideas about what the visit would entail. He collected me from the metro station. I had carried a 30 pound backpack along with a way-too-heavy carry-on sized suitcase and my oversized handbag through the 30 degree heat, heaving them up and down stairs and escalators around the metro system, and I was tired and hot and sweaty and wanted nothing more than a shower and a nap. But did you know that a single kiss in Europe is apparently a free ticket for a guy to do whatever he wants with a woman? I did not know this. I discovered this European belief the moment I walked in the door of his apartment because he practically attacked me with his tongue. I was like, seriously? No. I want a nap and a shower.”

  • justifiably annoyed

    If you ask me the only things that are necessary to communicate are the ones NOT communicated.

    Mandie, with all her great intentions does not seem capable of handing out one detailed newsletter update from the collective, which is factual and informative, rather than beating around the bush while patting each others’ backs. Is it not her job as communications in-charge to inform other members as they(collective members) ARE using money donated by them?

    However, I don’t even think there’s any reason to imagine that they will change. The general manager hasn’t updated his blog since April,and I am sure they are busy planning the next collective in some exotic place and more new members will donate to their travels thinking its going to go a long way to make CS better

    It seems with these new “private” collectives the lack of communication is even more apparent, and a kind of elitism overrules transparency. Information is now on a need to know basis and information access is becoming more and more difficult. The only way to really ask questions is to use the “contact Us” form. The lack of clear communications is even more pressing. It would be great if they would speed up their efforts in this direction, even though its a few disgruntled members who seem to be voicing their opinions.

  • The last few posts in the [CS Tech] News Feed were quite good, I think. Especially the last one where Weston Hankins now signs his name, instead of keeping it anonymous. It gives me the impression that work is done, with some kind of project management.

  • justifiably annoyed

    I do agree with that Pickwick; what about Mandie’s communication style?

  • What I find much more interesting than the question of her style or capabilities are the structures within which she has to work. She obviously is the last link in the chain of command, has no genuine authority herself, and has to clear everything with everybody else before she can say anything. Only if and until nobody objects do we get the information. I can imagine that to be as frustrating to her as it is to you or to me.

    One could imagine another management style which sees communication as priority, especially in a situation where trust has been lost massively, where everything has to be cleared with the Communications Officer, to make sure that nothing happens without being communicated properly.

  • justifiably annoyed

    You are spot on. I did have a typo there (did not mean to type style) and agree with you. It is incredible that the management of CS does not care about what they are doing, and yet it seems we are too small a bunch to seem like a number that will impact them to change.

    It seems the top management does not want to communicate and they do want to have the “top down ” management system that ttt had talked about last year.

    However, if Mandie is the communications officer, it does not leave us with much of an avenue to think that things will change really. To expect an open management team is a bit of a stretch. Look at the fact that there were folks in Thailand who wanted to volunteer, but were not given a chance, it leads me to think that they want a certain type of people working with them and if you look at the structure right now, its a worldwide group with representation only form western europe and americans. Those in asia are also american. I think they make their statements quite clearly, and are truly not that international in the way they think and neither do they care to make it seem equal or communicate.

  • spanish omlette

    From the brainstorm group
    A friend of mine recently escaped a rape attempt from a couchsurfing member. We believe that he drugged her but she managed to kick him out before she passed out.

    On the same day it happened, she was too shocked and still hadn’t recovered all her spirits, but I wrote a warning to the abuse team to ask them to monitor the guy, that he doesn’t harm someone else in the meantime. I was answered that they can do nothing unless the victim writes to them personally. I answered that I just wanted to attract their attention on a potential abuser, that maybe they could identify a suspicious pattern with the data they have access to. No answer.

    Two days later, she wrote them personally, telling the whole story. Now, fasten your seatbelt: She was answered that nothing would be done unless they would receive two police reports from different sources on the guy.

    Sure enough, she didn’t go to the police, and will not. I can imagine the reaction of a police officer: “So you let this stranger come inside your home… you met him on internet… okkkay”.

    Just a personal estimation: only 10% of the people victim of physical abuse through couchsurfing would actually confide it to the police.

    I told her to write in her message that, if they were not going to delete his profile, they should at least monitor it, or blacklist it or something. There again, nothing.

    It goes even further: the guy had told her he had stayed with other people before, but his profile don’t have references. I fear that they didn’t give him references because they had a bad experience as well. We asked them to let us email the people with whom he had been in contact with to try to find out. And also for psychological reasons regarding to my friend. The answer was, again, no.

  • From: Ambassadors Private

    Announcing CS Base Camp!

    Posted July 26th, 2008 – 6:48
    by Mattthew Brauer from San Francisco, United States

    Dear Ambassadors,

    Here in Homer, Alaska, the CS Collective has less than a month to go before it ends. CouchSurfing has benefited from the help of 15-20 full-time volunteers and staff for over 8 consecutive months. Several of these talented professionals have volunteered for CS that entire time, working without pay for the love of CouchSurfing. Now it’s time for CS to take the big next step, and we want to let you know first.

    In Thailand, we began to build our expert volunteer teams, we made many new tools for volunteer productivity, and we made our website scalable for the 1 million CS members we’ll have by the year’s end. In Alaska, we’ve focused on improvements to member features, such as the reference system improvements, and much more soon to be released. With this Collective ending in late August, we’re faced with the question: what’s next? Great ideas are pouring in from members and we have so much on our to-do list. How can we retain the talented full-time volunteers we’ve enjoyed for these many months?


    In a few days, we’ll be sending a scout to the San Francisco Bay Area in California, USA, to search for a new location for CS volunteers starting in September. Our scout is Pinkfish, who found our dream location in Pai, Thailand, as well as this amazing house in Homer, Alaska. She’ll be searching for a living and office space to house fifteen full-time volunteers and staff for the next 12 months.

    We’re calling this location ‘Base Camp’ because it will be our long-term volunteer training base and launch spot for future CS Collective around the globe. Base Camp will allow us to recruit the best talent in the world, ensure that CS is right for them, then send them off to join Collectives already in progress.

    Base Camp will also provide a stable place to plan and support the remote Collectives. We’ll be able to start one Collectives as another ends, and we will eventually maintain multiple continuous Collectives on several continents, accessible for most CS members.

    While Collectives inspire the commitment of volunteers and staff members who want the adventure of traveling the world for CS, Base Camp will also attract those who have families or jobs and who need a stable location to participate.


    We are an international community, and that’s why we will continue to hold international Collectives. CouchSurfing takes place in home around the world, and Base Camp will be just one of our centers of activity.

    California offers CS many resources for a long-term location. The SF Bay Area is known worldwide as a center for innovative web companies as well as charity organizations that are changing the world – which means CS will fit right in. We’ll have help from some of the smartest minds who have already made the SF Bay area their home, and many free recourses for non-profits.

    Another advantage is all of the CouchSurfers who live there. Of the cities with the largest total number of CouchSurfers, San Francisco is in top ten. And of all large cities, SF has more CouchSurfing members per capita than any other city in the world. Did you know that 1 in every 200 San Francisco residents is a CouchSurfer? SF loves CS!

    * WHAT’S NEXT?

    The first step is to find our new home. Pinkfish will be enlisting the support of the SF Bay Area community to help us find the right location and set it up. Before we move in, we’ll post the available volunteer roles at Base Camp and at the next Collective that will most likely begin in November. Maybe one of these roles has your name on it!

    We have so much we want to accomplish, and Base Camp will allow us to do those things more efficiently than ever before. Adding new features, building community, bringing much more information and stories to members, supporting large member events such as this summer’s CouchCrash in New York City, making it easier to surf and host, and giving you Ambassadors more support.

    With so much to do, we’re excited for the opportunity to continue the progress we’re making in Alaska without break through the next year and beyond.

    I’ll have many more details to share soon. In the mean time, you can follow along on the Alaska Collective blog. I’ll be checking in on this thread over the next month to gather your suggestions. Thanks for your input!


    Mattthew Brauer
    General Manager

  • SF Bay Gangbang

    How do we choose the collective location

    Pai Thailand Holiday for Casey and his girlfriend.

    Homer Umm.. Caseys has family near there makes sense.

    CS BASE CAMP San Francisco Bay Area in California, USA,
    The SF Bay Area is known worldwide as a center for innovative web companies NOT REALLY THE REASON

    The SF Bay Area is known to be the HOME of Mattthew Brauer from San Francisco, United States AND Caseys EX? Heater O’brian and the GROUP of CASEYS BURNING MAN BUDDIES (easier to party with buddies, easier to get to burning man)

  • But Brian, an Aussie guy I met in Hong Kong a few months ago, saw other advantages.

    “Mate, it’s sensational,” he told me. “It’s a shag-fest. I stayed with this French girl in Paris, and she barely let me put down my pack before she jumped me. I’m doing it every time I travel now. You should get on there.”

    from blogs theage com au

  • Wow, “shaggy”, the new “jerme”

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