Category Archives: Social Media

Dealing With A #Boycott Crisis

Our society is more polarized today than at any moment in recent memory.  Our politics is divisive.  Opinions have become more outspoken and outraged.  Driving all of this is social media.  Social media has allowed millions to have a voice and share their opinion.  It is also a driving force in spreading disapproval of a brand when it takes a stand that someone disagrees with.  The hashtag #Boycott followed by a brand’s name is one of the most popular ones on Twitter.  Brands need to be prepared when this happens.

Here are a few examples.

A local Cracker Barrel in Indiana fired the wife of a man named Brad.  Brad went on to social media to demand that Cracker Barrel explain why his wife was fired.  His posts were picked up by people on social media with the hashtag #JusticeforBradsWife.  The Cracker Barrel social media sites were inundated with comments and questions about Brad’s wife.  Traditional media picked up the story which became a humorous running joke.  Cracker Barrel ignored the posters and social media outcry.  This led to a new hashtag #BoycottCrackerBarrel.  The chain took a hit and its stock price went down.

Adidas made a tone-deaf move by sending out an email to Boston Marathon participants with the subject line, “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” the day after this year’s marathon – just four years after the bombings at the 2013 marathon. The backlash was immediate.  The hashtag #BoycottAddias started.  Before it could gain traction and Adidas quickly issued a public apology saying, “We are incredibly sorry. There was no thought given to the insensitive email subject line we sent Tuesday. We deeply apologize for our mistake.”

The heartfelt public apology stopped #BoycottAddias in its tracks. It prevented the incident from turning into a negative three- to five-day story.

A result of #Boycott means that it is more important than ever to make sure that you are prepared with a statement supporting your decision if you are caught in the crosshairs of a boycott. Or if you feel like you’ve made a mistake, make sure the statement explains why you made the decision in the first place and what you are doing to fix the issue. Consumers want to know their voices are being heard and changes are being made.

How Businesses Should Respond To A Social Media Crisis

Social media drives narratives.  That cannot be emphasized enough.  And it is particularly true during a crisis over customer service.  More and more dissatisfied customers are taking to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to express their displeasure over poor customer service or what they view as poor quality products.  A case in point happened with the Twitter war between conservative author, Ann Coulter and Delta Airlines.

Coulter’s problems with Delta began, after the exit-row seat she reserved on her flight from New York to West Palm Beach was given away to a fellow passenger without any “explanation, compensation or apology” she claimed on Twitter.  Delta’s social media team reached out via Twitter apologizing to Coulter and offering to compensate her the extra money she had paid.  But that wasn’t the end of the Twitter war heard around the world.  Coulter took again to Twitter attacking Delta, its employees, and even the passenger who took her seat.  Delta responded to her via Twitter defending its employees and passengers.  The feud between Coulter and Delta was picked up by the news media and is still ongoing.  Yet it raises the question in this social media driven age in which every tweet and post is analyzed, how should a company respond when under attack via social media?

These are some things a company should do and remember:

  1. Respond to the complaint. Ignoring it will only make the customer angrier and lead to others on social media joining in.  Like Delta originally did, acknowledge a mistake if it was made, offer an apology, and finally offer a resolution.  Always act as if your response will be viewed by the entire world because with the power of social media it probably will be.
  2. Stand up for the company if you are unfairly accused of something. In the case of Delta, the company stood up for its employees and passengers when Coulter’s tweets began attacking them.  This showed a humanizing face for Delta and allowed the company also to stand up against false allegations.  They also remembered that part of their brand identity is their employees and they defended that brand DNA that was under attack.
  3. Use humor and class in admitting a major mistake if possible. Social media can be abusive and snarky.  If admitting a mistake, a company is always smart to use some self-depreciating humor in its response and take the high road.  Anything else will make the social media crisis worse.
  4. Have a social media team that responds 24/7. Social media never rests and that why a company always needs to respond right away or else the social media firestorm will grow.

Social media complaints are never-ending.  The key for companies is to respond to each in a way that it is one and gone.  Failing to do so will ensure that the complaint becomes a full blown crisis on social media and then in the traditional media causing extreme brand damage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Brand Ready for A Social Media Crisis Based On Today’s Politics

Social media drives narratives.  That cannot be said enough.  Social media can also create a crisis where none existed.  Many brands are finding this out firsthand in the current politically charged and polarized environment.

Today’s consumers expect brands to tell a story and share their values including their political values.  Many brands have for years avoided taking stands on political issues and politicians as they knew such a stand would antagonize some consumers and cost them sales.  Yet more and more brands are finding that they can’t sidestep political issues.  Consumers are taking to social media demanding to know where a brand stands on an issue or political personality.  We have seen this just recently with consumers taking to social media to demand of brands where do they stand on FOX News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly and stories of sexual harassment.  This social media outrage has led numerous advertisers to pull their advertising from his show.

Very often brands are caught unprepared for the social media outrage that creates a crisis for them.  They need to be proactive, especially in this socially media driven world where a tweet on Twitter can be more powerful than the best devised public relations campaign and lead to numerous negative media stories.

What should companies do?

  1. Identify potential issues that consumers care about and might demand to know where the brand stands on the issue.
  2. Identify potential activists, antagonists, supporters, and media that would be involved in such a media crisis.
  3. Practice stimulations of a potential social media crisis driven by the brand’s stand on a particular issue.
  4. Respond at once when the crisis erupts.
  5. Engage on social media. Remember brands are all about engaging consumers on social media about various positive news items.  But too often, they fail to do that when a crisis hits.  That is a mistake.

A crisis can happen at any time.  In today’s polarized world social media often both creates and defines a crisis.  To survive such a crisis, a brand must be ready.

 

The Two Key Components of Successful PR For A Startup

Startups are emerging everyday.  A lasting impact of the Great Recession is the number of people starting companies on their own.  One of the key things that these new companies need is publicity.

Why?

  1. It gets the company’s name out to the public, creating brand awareness.
  2. It allows the company a chance to attract investors.

Yet despite knowing this many startups struggle over what they need to do to achieve publicity.  Sometimes they launch a publicity campaign before they are ready for prime time or other times they try to incorporate a variety of components in their publicity campaigns instead of concentrating on the two most important pieces of startup publicity – media relations and the company blog.

Media relations and the company’s blog are without a doubt, the most essential public relations pieces for any startup.  Without those two pieces nothing else matters, in terms of publicity.

Media relations is quite simply news stories featuring the startup and its founder.  It informs the world of the new company and the wonders that it can do.  Beyond that, a successful media relations campaign should position the founder of the company as the expert in the field the company specializes in.  The founder should be in all news stories dealing with his or her field and offering solutions to the problems that the media is discussing.  This implies a third party endorsement by the media.  Media relations must be ongoing to create a sense of awareness and repetition.  Media relations is the most efficient way to create public brand awareness and draw the attention of investors.

The company blog is the other critical public relations component for a startup.  Why?  First every blog post attracts traffic to the company’s website and also helps in search engine results.  Beyond that, just as with media relations, it sets the company up as an industry expert that helps in the long-term branding of the company.  Finally, it converts leads into customers.

Public relations is critical to the success of startups.  But knowing what to put the emphasis on in a publicity campaign can determine if the startup succeeds or fails.  Every start-up when executing its public relations campaign needs to emphasize media relations and the company blog.

What Businesses Can Learn From This Year’s Political Conventions – Social Media Is King

The 2016 political conventions are upon us. Unlike political conventions of the past, the suspense is gone on who will be the nominee and no intense battles over party platforms are fought out at the conventions. The political convention in this day and age is in many ways an infomercial for the presidential nominee and their political party. Yet millions of Americans still tune into the convention. Yet the way they tune in to obtain coverage is one studied intensely by businesses so that they can copy the methods to reach the consumer.

Political communications leads businesses in new ways to reach consumers and position their brands. In 1920 and 1924, radio came of age covering the Republican and Democratic conventions. Businesses paid note of that and the increasing number of Americans who owned a radio. The result was that businesses began reaching out to Americans via radio – sponsored shows like Little Orphan Annie(the forerunner of product placements) and direct advertisements. In 1952, as Dwight Eisenhower and Robert A. Taft battled it out for control of the Republican Party, millions were glued to the convention proceedings on television that was just reaching its potential. Again businesses took note that a new way to reach consumers had emerged.

So what can businesses learn from this year’s political conventions?

Social media is king. The television networks have all cut back on their coverage of the conventions (a trend that has been going on for a while now with all of the suspense gone). Americans are paying attention to the conventions not with traditional sources of media (radio, television, or print) but via social media – Twitter and Facebook. This confirms something we have seen over the past several years – social media sets narratives. In fact a tweet or Facebook post often reaches more people than a television broadcast of the proceedings. Beyond that, people react to what they are seeing on social media. The takeaway from this convention season for businesses – social media is only growing stronger as are the ways to use it. A shrewd business leaders will copy what they are seeing at the conventions and use the methods.

Business always follows politics in terms of how to reach consumers. It has been this way since politics became the competitive and partisan profession it is today. Each election cycle offers business leaders lessons on new ways to reach the consumer and make their brand standout. The next two weeks will provide many examples of this – just stay tuned.