Public Relations in the Digital Era


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what to say and when

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  • Be careful with pre-scheduled posts Only a few hours after the tragic shooting last July in a Colorado movie theater, an official account associated with the National Rifle Association Tweeted, “Good morning, shooters. Happy Friday! Weekend plans?” Few Americans, let alone those on Twitter, could have avoided the news coming out of Colorado that day, so let’s charitably assume that the Tweet was written the night before and auto-scheduled for that morning. Still,  the Tweet was kept live for nearly three hours  before it was finally deleted.
  • Don’t delete.. “ This is a company that didn’t understand how to respond to an Internet mob,” he said. “This whole thing would probably have gone away if they hadn’t kept pouring gasoline on the fire.” What went wrong? Applebee’s says its social media policy is simple: to be as open and accessible as possible. “ Transparency matters to us,” said spokesman Smith. “We want to hear from our guests regardless of the subject matter.” Smith said the company’s four-member social media team gives a personal response to more than 90 percent of the posts. But until this incident, most of the posts dealt with questions about menu items or store locations, nothing like the venom being expressed in these comments. One example: “I don't even eat here, so I can't quit eating here. But I would! You guys just suck that much.” Finally, unable to keep up with the torrent of posts, the company decided late Thursday night to disable user posts on its Facebook page. On Friday they posted a status update containing the corporate statement and hid their previous post, along with its comment thread that had amassed more than 20,000 responses. “ That was a terrible idea,” said Mayfield. “It seemed like they were deleting posts, which is the worst thing you could possibly do.” Applebee’s Smith insisted the company did not delete or block any comments. He said everything that had disappeared when the company turned off comments and hid its initial post, reappeared when the post was restored and the page's wall was re-enabled. “ At no point was this done to mislead or delete comments, we simply couldn’t keep up,” Smith said. Smith explained that they even reviewed all the posts caught by the Facebook filters and added those comments back into the stream, except for the ones that were racist or pornographic. “ Our message going forward: We want the feedback,” Smith said. “We read every post and are responding as quickly as we can.” I asked Smith if Applebee’s made a mistake by turning off the wall, which appeared at the time to be an attempt to delete unfavorable comments? “ We’ll need to have a conversation about that,” he said. PR expert Louis Richmond believes the company could lose some customers in the next few weeks , but he doesn't think the brouhaha will have a long-term negative impact on the business. “ They’ll just have to weather the storm,” he said. “And not do anything else stupid.”
  • Don’t buy love
  • Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro, a restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona. Don’t lashout or criticize your community – even if they don’t seem like a great community at the moment. Remember moms love their teens even when they’re brats.
  • Don’t piggyback a trending topic, especially a sensitive one Kenneth Cole has removed the offending tweet and issued an apology on his Facebook Page : "I apologize to everyone who was offended by my insensitive tweet about the situation in Egypt. I’ve dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate. Kenneth Cole, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer" A fake account — @ KennethColePR , à la @ BPGlobalPR — has even cropped up, mocking the designer with such tweets as: "Our new slingback pumps would make Anne Frank come out of hiding! #KennethColeTweets."
  • Don’t over promise and under deliver You need to be careful about what you promise—especially when you make a promise on social media. This adage is ringing loud and clear for Toronto-based Timothy's Coffee. In an effort last month to grow its Facebook fan base, the company ran a promotion saying that anyone who "liked" its page would receive four free 24-pack boxes of single-serve coffee. As the Toronto Star reports , this was rather generous, as these boxes retail for over $17 CAD each. A contest aggregating site picked up the promotion and, as you can imagine, responses poured in, reports the Star. Problem is, the stock of product was depleted within three days of the launch, yet Timothy's still sent emails telling people their coffee was on the way. Despite obvious problems, the company said nothing until Jan. 4th, when it told fans that the promotion was “first come first serve.” Consumers lashed out, on the company’s Facebook page and in blogs. One blogger claimed Timothy’s deleted nasty comments from its page. Last week, the company issued a candid apology on its Facebook page: “We are so sorry! “This is our first go at this and we admit that we underestimated the response. “We are blown away that our fans love our coffee so much. “It really saddens us that we've disappointed our fans. “We apologize.” It also apologized in a video to fans and said that those who signed up will receive a coupon for a free 12-pack box. The coupon will “most likely” come via regular mail. Clearly, Timothy's gaffe illustrates its lack of understanding about social media. The company grossly overestimated the value of a Facebook fan, and then vastly underestimated the outrage caused by their bungled initiative and broken promises. That it took almost a month to resolve this issue speaks clearly to its lack of comprehension about the way people behave on the social Web.
  • Don’t mix biz with pleasure
  • Handled it well "We are an organization that deals with life-changing disasters and this wasn't one of them," says Harman. "It was just a little mistake."
  • Do your research It incongruously migrated from the original #MeetTheFarmers well-intentioned hashtag to the new #McDStories one. It didn't ever really explain what the hashtag #McDStories meant or in what context it was supposed to be used. It chose a hashtag that was easy to take out of context. Brand names in hashtags open a company up for negative exploitation. Then, once the exploitation began, McDonald's pulled down the tweet and mostly clammed up on the subject.
  • Think like a reporter before posting
  • Keep it on social
  • Listen &&&&&& RESPOND
  • It takes a village to raise a child The official response was: “ We apologise unreservedly. The post was wholly unacceptable and it will never happen again. We have social media guidelines that clearly outline what is acceptable. “However in this instance a new, over-enthusiastic member of our support team made an honest but misguided mistake and clearly stepped over the line.” All of sudden along comes the social web and a tsunami of interns…
  • Public Relations in the Digital Era

    1. 1. PR on Social:Knowing What to Say and WhenPresented by Lindsey Fair
    2. 2. Don’t pre-schedule.
    3. 3. Don’t delete.
    4. 4. Don’t buy love.
    5. 5. Don’tlashout.
    6. 6. Don’t piggyback –someone will get hurt.
    7. 7. Dontunder-estimatethe powerof social
    8. 8. Don’t mixbiz withpleasure.
    9. 9. But if youdo...handle itlike this.
    10. 10. DO your research.
    11. 11. DO post like areporter. Interesting andOften, and most of all accurate.
    12. 12. DO keepit onsocial.
    13. 13. DOlisten.DOrespond.
    14. 14. Do use a pro.
    15. 15.