Tag Archives: crisis management

Kitchen Aid’s Crisis Management success

imageWhat happened to Kitchen Aid the other week could happen to any brand  During the presidential debate, one of the team that managed the Kitchen Aid’s official Twitter account made an error that blew up very quickly.

The official @kitchenaidUSA account tweeted:

"Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president,"

Kitchen Aid deleted the Tweet, and issued an apology

Cynthia Soledad, head of Kitchen Aid went on the record to talk to Mashable and apologise for the Tweet. She immediately took responsibility, spoke freely to the media and quenched the social media fire that burned.

It seems to have worked. Mashable published this image from Simply Measures showing how quickly the mentions of the brand reduced as the apologies and media interviews were broadcast.

Crisis management depends on three things:

Swift ownership of the issue by senior leader

Immediate apology or retraction of the offensive statement

Availability for follow up information

In the background, at the brand other things are important to ensure that damage is limited:

Adequate training and awareness of crisis consequences

Defined lines of communication and crisis plan

Damage limitation and virtual messaging team (PR / spokespeople / exec team)

And most of all – a co-ordinated response across the relevant channel. If it happens on Twitter, rectify it on Twitter, if it happens on Facebook, rectify it on Facebook.  Then ensure that other channels point to the apology and damage limitation statement. It has got to be authentic, it has got to be open, it has got to be honest.

And it has got to be done quickly – before brand perception starts its downhill slide

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Image credit: smith_cl9 and Mashable

Crisis communication: Twitter and the Queensland floods

A year after the floods that devastated Queensland Australia, a report has been released by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries & Innovation (CCI).  The report discusses the impact that Twitter had in enabling efficient crisis communication during the floodins episode..

There are some interesting call outs about Twitter and the use of hashtags in the top line points from the report:

The hashtag, #qldfloods became the central coordinating mechanism for floods-related user activity on Twitter.

50-60% of #qldfloods messages were retweets

30-40% of messages contained links to further information

Twitter users amplified emergency information and thereby increased its reach.

Twitter became a source for mainstream media to report on the flooding.

Users uploaded and distributed flood photographs taken on their smartphones and digital cameras to sites such as Twitpic.

Retweeting of messages focussed especially on tweets with immediate relevance to the crisis at hand

Over 35,000 tweets containing the #qldfloods hashtag were sent during the period of 10-16 January

More than 15,500 Twitter users used the hashtag #qldfloods.


Source: CCI Australia flood report

The report also shows how much we share images – especially related to disasters, with those not in the immediate area of the flooding participating in sharing the images and broadcasting links which were picked up by media and shared on Facebook.

There are pointers for emergency services to consider coordinating a crisis response using social tools such as Twitter and Facebook:

An established presence on Twitter is important, and on-going monitoring of Twitter activities is valuable.

The community is willing to support and assist the work of emergency services

Emergency services should develop comprehensive, flexible strategies for using social media in times of Crisis

Emergency services staff should be trained

Emergency organisations should engage with and respond to messages received from the general public.

If Emergency services and official organisations use social media effectively, then it is easy to get the right information spreading rapidly. False information is quickly suppressed as the report shows,whilst information about help is propagated to rebuild communities after disaster strikes.

Used correctly, Twitter and other forms of social media have valuable parts to play in crisis situations.

Unfortunately, there are still many organisations that don’t yet have the correct procedures in place.  But with the actions of people in the community, help and information gets to those who need it most.

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.


SAAB files for bankruptcy: Fans rage at GM

SAAB have petitioned the Swedish government for bankruptcy, which signals the demise of the car brand.  SAAB is now owned by General Motors who are being blamed for the downturn by fans of SAAB.

Fans have flooded GM’s page with angry rants about SAAB as these comments on GM’s Facebook page show:


GM has wisely not decided to respond to the tirade on its Facebook page, but more importantly it is not deleting any of the negative posts.  It also appears to have a co-ordinated approach to its marketing communications and has had no flippant marketing campaigns or posts on their wall from other divisions of GM.

In times of crisis, when a brand has experienced the ‘occupation’ of  its brand page by disgruntled fans it’s important that a brand has a co-ordinated approach to marketing communications.  Unfortunately Qantas did not, offering prizes of luxury pyjamas in the midst of a union dispute.

When Nestle’s Facebook page was brandjacked over its policy of using palm oil in chocolate production the brand hit back:

“So, let’s see, we have to be well-mannered all the time but it’s perfectly acceptable to refer to us as everything from idiots right the way down to sons of satan with a few obscenities and strange sexual practices thrown in?”

It’s better to remain silent during the outburst of initial anger and go back with a considered measured response.

An ill timed, snappy retort might fan the flames of fury further and damage the brand reputation and image.  GM is doing the right thing by keeping quiet.  It will be able to craft a much better considered response if it waits for a while.

It remains to be seen however whether a considered response will pacify lovers of this iconic car, or serve to cause a second wave of anger over a cost based business decision, devoid of emotion.

Only time will tell…

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Twitter: Not the place for a vitriolic argument

Dear me..

Sometimes Twitter is used as though its a personal channel of communication between 2 people and not the rest of the connected world. Personal insults get traded without any awareness that the rest of us can see what’s happening.  So people lash out and they don’t realise the consequences.

Last week, Otarian, the vegan restaurant announced that it wasn’t going to open a restaurant in London.  The food blogger Chris Pople commented on the fact that the restaurant in London’s Covent Garden was closed.  Unfortunately, Otarian took exception to this and responded bitterly.  Magnus has a selection of Tweets  on his storify where he talk about the story of a hashtag gone sourGrub Street picked up on the fact that the Twitter feed had gone haywire


Link to original tweet

This diatribe between Otarian and anyone that comments on Twitter  to them – or uses the hashtag otarianwatch is interesting to see.  It’s either a very clever bit of PR or utter foolishness on the part of Otarian.  Looking at the vitriol  on the stream from 5th – 7th August – I’m not so sure.  There’s anger certainly and a lot of bitterness, resentment and nasty comments.  All recorded forever on Twitter via links and screen clippings and blogs. 

As Judith says in her Tweet…  


A great example in how not to win friends and influence people  Social media specialists and Twitter trainers –  you can see that there’s still a heck of a lot of work still to be done…  Smile

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Even Fox News needs a crisis management plan

These Tweets rushed around the world last week.  News that Obama had been assassinated appeared on Fox News politics Twitter news feed…  Fox News apologised for the misinformation and any distress that might have been caused.


Hat tip to David Meerman for capturing the screenshots of the relevant Tweets before they were removed…

There’s a problem here that goes far beyond the normal Twitter hacking issue – which is bad enough.

We live in a 24 x 7 world of communications.  Fox News is a 24 x 7 news channel.  Why isn’t their social media monitoring 24 x 7 too?

Why didn’t Fox News have a very strong password to try to guard against hacking attempts?

Why didn’t someone alert Fox News politics that there was an issue?  Where were their alternate communications channels in case of a crisis?

Where were the remainder of the Fox News Politics team of Tweeters?  Was anyone authorised to respond across the business?

Why didn’t Fox News respond on Fox News politics behalf?

Crisis management plans are important.  See my article on social media crisis management and things that you need to consider, crisis wise – and create your own framework as soon as you can.  And make sure you are empowered to implement it – as soon as a crisis hits…

Eileen Brown is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

Versace gives–and takes away

Versace got their social media activities wrong the other day which resulted in an interesting uprising on Facebook.  They removed the ability for Fans to post to their Facebook Wall after allowing them free access to post.

Fans had been complaining about sandblasting jeans which can result in the worker inhaling silica dust.  Several deaths have been reported as a result of this activity according to Mashable.

Fans  can still add comments to posts by the brand, but can no longer create their own posts and post them.  There has been an outcry at the removal of permissions and deletion of posts.  Remember the outcry over Nestle last year? Greenpeace bombarded the Facebook page with posts complaining about the company’s use of Palm oil.  The issue wasn’t that people were being prevented from posting – rather that posts were being deleted.  Privileges were taken away that used to exist for Facebook fans


It’s really simple to set appropriate permissions right at the start on your Facebook Page.  Its as simple as setting the appropriate check box.

But brands, desperate for engagement with their customers, often don’t think of the backlash that can occur if previously allowed actions are taken away.

This would have been so simple to avoid, had Versace thought through the impact of allowing something – then taking it away.

Getting your plans, strategy and settings right first time can go a long way to avoiding issues like these.

And brands like Versace, with a little more planning could have avoided this crisis completely.



Social CRM: Why companies fail to evolve


Image credit: Flickr

Customer relationship management should be at the core of every business whether you have a great online presence or not.  From the ability to process returned goods in a shop, to fixing customer problems online, CRM is vital for businesses. 

Traditionally looking after the customer was a coordinated approach for companies. 

The Customer service teams worked with the Sales team and the Marketing team to make sure that the customer was sure to purchase your goods, and have a good experience with the brand all along.  If there was an issue with the brand or the service, then customer service would sort it out.

The social customer is different. 

He now has the customer relations team interacting with him and engaging with him on his chosen channel.  Companies can then actively engage with the customer to increase perception about the brand.  Collaboration, engagement and dialogue leads the relationship  so you need to change the way you manage the relationship.

But who is the social customer and why does he need to be managed?

Always connected: The social customer gets his information about your brand online.  They learn about news and carry out research through Twitter and Facebook.  Their networks often have the answers they need.

Interactive: They trust 2 way conversations with the brand rather than broadcasts from the brand.  They are socially savvy.  they are connected

Expectant:  the social customer expects  response.  They expect brands to be listening on the social channels where they are.  At any time, day or night.

Listener: They want brands to be responsive to their queries, responsive to their queries and be in listening mode all the time.  They want honesty. They want transparency.  They want answers.

A recent example of a company with a poor reputation for CRM is one of the train operators in the UK.  Last night there was a huge problem with the rail service that services the south west of England.  Passengers who got on the trains to leave London during the 6pm rush hour had a problem.  They left Waterloo station, only to be stranded for more than 4 hours outside Woking Station in Surrey 20 miles away.

imageSeveral people frustrated by the lack of information took matters into their own hands.  Then several other passengers eventually forced their way out of the trains to walk down the track to Woking Station. 

This caused power to the lines to be shut off stranding 60 trains.  Passengers switched to Twitter to try to get an answer from South West Trains about why there was such a delay (here’s an example if you can’t find anything on Twitter search) and there are several blog posts documenting the chaos.

The thing that jumps out of this debacle is the utter lack of communication from South West trains themselves.  National Rail Enquiries, who provide information about train scheduling were online, active and as helpful as they could possibly be last night. 

Representatives of South West trains were unavailable last night and refused to comment this morning although there is an apology on their site.

Unfortunately for companies with no social CRM in place, Twitter hash tags makes communication between strangers easy.  Communities form for the moment, transient friendships are made.  Companies can no longer hide with fabrication and evasiveness.  The social consumer is socially savvy.

Social CRM necessitates a change in behaviour.  A total change.

Relationship change.  Previously, the passengers on the stranded trains would have been totally dependent on messages from the guard. now they have formed an engaged community of activists, demanding answers in real time.  Communication has been democratised and anyone can help the customer with his issue

Process changes: The consumer is in control.  They control the messaging.  The company now needs to listen and effect the change.

Channel Changes: The customer decides what channels to use.  Twitter tends to be the main channel for instant dissemination of information with blogs used as a follow up

Time changes:  This is not a 9 to 5 world any more.  Companies who want to achieve good relationships with their customers need to be on hand to answer questions whenever problems arise.  Even at 11pm.

Message Changes:  Consumers create dialogue.  Customers want interaction.  They don’t want outbound messages broadcast from the marketing teams.  They want to connect with the customer.

Gartner predicted that by 2010 50% of customers with online communities will fail to manage them correctly as  South West trains have proved.  Even though they haven’t created the community, its there all the same.  And South West and many other companies need to take heed of this and evolve their social CRM strategy before they utterly fail.

Watching the complaints of the many commuters who have no other way to get to London for work still streaming across the social web, I think that they already have…

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.