Baltic PR Awards 2010
Category: Issues & Crisis Management
IZZI, tweet to save reputation!
IZZI, one of the leading telecommunications companies in Latvia, introduced a high-speed
home internet service in April 2009. Right after product launch, serious technical difficulties
were experienced, but the company stayed silent on it for over 4 months. Meanwhile the
number of subscribers of the new service grew rapidly hand in hand with the number of
complaints. Client service info-line was overloaded and more 19 000 complaints were piling
In June handful of dissatisfied clients started active negative social media campaign against
the company, creating snowball effect so that even non-clients joined in and were ready to
take some real action. Since IZZI was not represented in social media, the company did not
have a slightest idea on the negative buzz until traditional media started to get interested in
IZZI involved Consultancy and a crisis communication strategy was created overnight.
Crisis situation demanded immediate action, so almost an over-night research was conducted
that included social media content analysis and stakeholder and issues mapping. Top
management, technicians and client service of the company were involved to understand the
reasons of the crisis and to work out action plan.
Affected clients, opinion leaders in social media, bloggers, employees, journalists, investors
and regulator were identified as key stakeholder groups.
The lists of each stakeholder group were prepared that included all the contact information
and history on previous communication with/on IZZI. Special attention was devoted to
analysis of negative campaign organizers and their Twitter activities. Two bloggers were
involved to work-out list of social media stakeholders. According to the principles set by
Consultancy, IZZI prioritized existent clients according to the level of complaints, interest and
communication to work out customized client communication plan.
The crises management (CM) team was gathered straight after the client brief on June 30,
2009. The developed strategy was approved already on the next day and campaign was
implemented from 1 July till 28 July. CM team included relevant managers from IZZI,
Consultancy representatives and external social media expert.
Focus of the crisis communication strategy was to ENGAGE and speak openly with key
stakeholders: affected clients, opinion leaders in internet, employees, and journalists. Holistic
integrated CM plan covered all the tasks for stakeholder relations.
Objectives of crises management team were the following:
1. Stopped the potential transfer of the issue from social to traditional media. Criteria –
direct-sales result for internet services.
2. Reduced pressure among IZZI employees and client affected by technical issues.
Criteria – number of received complaints and number of client turnover.
3. Improved Google Top search results. Criteria – number of links to negative items in
Google Top 10 generic search results on keyword “IZZI”.
Consultancy prepared list of Q&As, provided trainings for involved employees, helped to work
out special offers for affected clients. Company involved extra persons to support the client
service and used only direct communication with each client to demonstrate the individual
approach and care about clients.
Consultancy identified most aggressive Twitter users, bloggers and other opinion leaders in
social media and treated them as the top priority stakeholder group providing them the most
updated information and asking advice for the best solution. First Latvian corporate Tweetup
was organized to explain the situation and to discuss the best possible corporate usage of
On the next day after Tweetup a vacancy of Twitter account operator was announced with
24h deadline and 140 characters long application letter. Selected person started the IZZI
Twitter account few days later, all the recruitment process had a wide coverage both in
traditional and social media.
Twitter account followed all the angry contributors, communicated directly and served as
online help-line for customers.
Pro-active communication with traditional media was carried out switching their focus from
technical problems to the power of social media and to local pioneering of corporate social
media usage. Media attention was used for explaining the advantages of technologies used
by IZZI internet.
Successful crises communication contributed to sales and client service:
- sales of internet services dropped in July by 13% compared to June 2009 but
increased for 12% in August and for 48% more in September;
- complaints on internet reached the highest level in July (7248) that decreased by
29% in August;
- Internet customer turnover reached the highest point in July and decreased in
following months (August – 15% down, September – 2.5% down).
There were only 2 clips in traditional media on the client service issues and 16 clips on Twitter
In 3 weeks – 4 of 7 negative Top 10 Google generic search results replaced by neutral or
Soon after set-up Twitter account reached 483 Twitter followers (approx. 8% of Latvian users
at that time).
Until the end of 2009 the IZZI case is mentioned as the best practice for social media usage
by 7 different business and internet oriented media; campaign leaders invited to explain the
case-study in universities and professional associations.
Campaign was followed by structural changes in the company and additional trainings to
improve the client service performance. Consultancy continues to manage implementation of
necessary internal changes to minimize similar reputational risks.
TWEET TO SAVE
Major technical breakdown results in
severe problems with new internet service
2:42 AM Apr 24th via web
3:22 AM May 28th via web
Angry clients start active social media
campaign against IZZI
3:52 AM Jun 19th via web
Online negative buzz might switch to
traditional media Sales
4:02 AM Jun 30th via web
Agency involved, crisis communication
strategy created overnight
9:42 PM Jul 1st via web
Top bloggers, twitterers and dissatis ed
clients engaged in solution process.
10:56 PM Jul 6th via web
First o cial Twitter account operator vacancy
in Latvia announced, media pick up IZZI’s
12:16 AM Jul 7th via web
Negative buzz kept within Twitter
1:43 AM Aug 17th via web
After dramatic fall in July, sales go up 48%,
complaints decreased 29%
5:23 AM Sep 28th via web
Clients in regions
Social networks of affected clients
July 2009 by tweetstats.com
Consumer Rights Agency Corporate clients
Industry experts Media
Employees Social networks of employees
Unaffected clients Politicians
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Internet Service Statistics
June - September 2009