Hash-tag high-jack

McDonalds has publicly come under attack recently when a promotional Twitter hash-tag they created to promote fresh produce got high-jacked. Anti McDonalds Tweeters accused the chain of “making customers vomit, serving pig meat from gestation crates and dishing up a burger containing a finger nail”. Rick Wion, social media director said that “Within an hour, we saw that it wasn’t going as planned. It was negative enough that we set about a change of course”. The McDonalds team were also quick to act when a hoax poster was shared on Twitter, which suggested that they were charging an ‘additional fee’ to African-American customers. Wion said that “Our strategy was to set the record straight, then through the next two days reaching out to people we saw posting the picture and continuing to inform them”. The key is not to avoid social media in case something bad happens, but to plan for what to do if it does. Do your social media or press team need refresher crisis training?

Another company suffering from bad press recently were O2, who it was revealed last week were sending customers mobile numbers to every website they visited using the O2 network on their smartphones. This means that personal details could be used without permission. The company with 22 million UK customers took to Twitter to say that it was looking into the matter and even exceeded its daily tweet allowance trying to reassure the public.

James Paterson, PR and social media campaigns manager said that O2 did ““not stay quietly in [its] shell” as news circulated about the data leaks and that the company employed a strategy immediately to respond to user questions and communicate that it was investigating the issue”. He went on to say that they wanted to directly get back to as many as possible “In the past we may have just given a Q&A to the well-known media outlets, but our people understand that if you answer queries and communicate to people on social media straight away, problems tend to be resolved more quickly”. The office of the Information Commissioner is currently investigating the privacy breach “We will now speak to O2 to remind them of their data breach notification obligations, and to better understand what has happened, before we decide how to proceed.” Crisis management is about updating the public regularly and reassuring them that the problem will be resolved. It is important to keep your plan updated and it seems that O2’s plan is in place.

Things like this can happen; people have their own opinion and have the power to voice it to the world via social media. If something like this happens to your company it is important to deal with the situation unfolding quickly and calmly to avoid as much negative press as possible. Of can course, Bluewood Training can help your team to prepare and keep a cool head in a crisis.

Written by Megan – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – February 2012

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