The online PR minefield
The power of social media? You can get your brand talked about by millions of people. The down side? You can get your brand talked…
The power of social media? You can get your brand talked about by millions of people. The down side? You can get your brand talked about by millions of people.
If your PR nightmare goes viral then damage to your brand can be done quicker than a Ratner’s after-dinner speech (where his joke about cheap prices being down to selling crap sank his nationwide chain of high street jewellers overnight).
Whether it’s a mistake or mind-numbing daftness, when online PR goes wrong it can go wrong big.
Coffin dodgers and chavs
“Coffin dodgers” and “chavs” is probably not the most politically correct way Scottish Labour Party member Stuart MacLennan could have referred to pensioners and train passengers at Stirling station. His tirade of foul-mouthed and ill-advised tweets cost him his political future.
Scottish Labour officials initially stood by their man saying he was young and realised he’d made a mistake.
What went wrong? Voters are the ‘customers’ of political parties, party members the ‘staff’. If one of your staff insults your customers so spectacularly and clearly, you can’t stand by them.
Vodafone UK is going after beaver
Corporate entities rarely get “fed up of dirty homo’s” and “go after beaver”. So it caused a few raised eyebrows when Vodafone UK posted this less-than-corporate and wholly-inappropriate tweet.
Whether it was a mix-up (someone posting by mistake with the business profile rather than their own) or a disgruntled employee… this could have spelled PR disaster.
A lot of companies would have deleted it and tried to ignore their way out of the social media buzz generated or blame it on hackers. Instead Vodafone immediately acknowledged it, apologised and said they were dealing with it.
What went right? If you want to truly engage with your customers then you need to give staff the freedom to do it. You can’t stop a staff member from a super-nova fail but you can do what Vodafone did.. respond quickly, honestly and take action (no standing-by this staff member).
Seen my Weiner?
Ah, the congressman and potential future mayor of New York who accidentally let his naughty pictures slip on Twitter…
It happens to all of us – you mean to DM and it accidentally goes public. But when you’re a married politician sending crotch shots it’s going to cost you your job. It’s no use denying it for days, claiming it’s not you in the pictures or hackers did it, not when you know there’s 5 other women with the same digital goods on your goods.
How not to handle PR? No PR guru could’ve spun their way out of this one. But that Vodafone quick-response honesty could’ve at least limited the damage to being called a pervert. Doesn’t sound like a win? It’s better than being called a pervert and a liar.
What can coffin-dodgers, chavs, going after beaver and wieners teach us?
For a most businesses, PR is largely seen as a form of marketing. It’s all about pushing your positive-spin messages via press releases, interviews, reviews, social media and the like.
With online PR the emphasis is shifting towards really engaging with audiences, but PR still suffers from an insurance-like image – folks don’t appreciate its value until after something’s gone wrong. But reputation management and damage control are much harder without prior engagement – you can’t suddenly force yourself into conversations and expect credibility.
Vodafone are the shining example here. They dealt with it. By responding quickly and honestly they defused a potential PR bomb. This was made easy because of their history of engaging with audiences on social media.
Written by Jason John Mills