By now, pretty much the entire world has heard about DiGiorno's major flub earlier this week. Long story short, earlier this week, survivors of domestic violence stepped forward to share their stories on Twitter using the hashtag #WhyIStayed. Apparently DiGiorno's Community Manager saw the trending hashtag, but didn't take time to explore what it was about, because this happened: (Go ahead. I'll hold while you groan in horror.)
As Adweek points out, "It was a boneheaded mistake, to be sure, similar to snack brand Entenmann's famously regrettable decision to tweet on the hashtag #notguilty, failing to realize it was trending because Casey Anthony had been aquitted of murdering her daughter.
In Entenmann's case, the brand responded by simply abandoning Twitter for years, leaving their account as a scorched-earth monument to poor decisions. DiGiorno has, so far, taken the more mature and difficult approach. Since last night's #whyistayed tweet, the brand has been responding to dozens of Twitter users offended by the post. Each response has been personalized and is clearly sincere, which is a nice reprieve from the usual copy-and-paste approach to dealing with bad PR in social."
THE LESSON There's an age-old tidbit of wisdom that reminds us that the best form of medicine is prevention. The same holds true for PR. The best form of PR is avoiding a crisis entirely. We're doing business and socially engaging in a world where time is of the essence and the whole world can have eyes on your brand's message at any given moment. The margin for error is minuscule, at best. Mistakes do not go unnoticed, they get shared -- fast. For Community Managers, there is an increasing presence to be on top of everything 24-7. To be there the moment something goes viral and figure out a way to make it work for the brand.
As we delve further and further into a real-time marketing world, we're going to see more and more of these real-time screw ups. Hurry and hysteria do not a solid, worry-free strategy make. I propose we all take a breath, take a beat and take a tidbit of advice to heart...