Tag Archives: mistakes

Costco begs for forgiveness after being caught out on Twitter

25 Nov

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I’m normally an advocate for social media silence, but national retailer Costco was quick to repent for its sins with a statement – after the brand was caught out last week.

To put it into context, a Californian pastor noticed that a stack of Bibles were labelled as fiction in one of its stores. Now, you might not believe that this book contains the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but there’s no need for the brand to potentially offend the 246m Christians in the US.

So how did Costco respond after the pastor blasted the company on Twitter? With a watertight crisis management statement that followed the classic ‘get out of jail’ formula:

The formula
Shift blame + Take blame + Olive branch solution = Peace is restored

What Costco said
Costco’s distributor mislabelled a small percentage of the Bibles. However, we take responsibility and should have caught the mistake. We are correcting this with them for future distribution. In addition, we are immediately relabelling all mislabelled Bibles. We greatly apologise for this error.

By the time this was issued it was too little too late. Pastor Caleb Kaltenbach’s tweet had already shocked his congregation, who questioned if Costco was guilty of religious discrimination. And 1,466 followers, 253 retweets, 88 favourites and a flurry of national news stories later, it got so out of hand the pastor had to calm his flock down by claiming he wasn’t angry, just interested.

The one thing Costco didn’t do was use its social media channels to defend itself. Perhaps it was trying to bury bad news or take the approach that what its customers don’t know won’t hurt them (or the business). But failing to maximise its 1m reach on Facebook seems strange, especially when its Twitter pages are such a mess.

Well, at least Caleb has a pinch of inspiration for his next sermon and has successfully engaged with his audience. But the moral of this story is that if you’re truly sorry for your actions, God will forgive your mistakes.

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Do you Beliebe in brand PR?

5 Mar

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It’s been a difficult week for certain celebrities. They’ve made mistakes that have dented their image and some poor PR will have to pick up the pieces. There’s two famous faces I’ve got in mind: Justin Bieber and Lord Sugar.

Beauty and a Beat singer Bieber turned up late to his own concert at the O2 arena on Monday – causing the event to overrun and distraught teenagers fleeing half way through to get the last train home. Needless to say, Bieber was the victim of a social media backlash.

But instead of apologising, he simply told fans that the times were incorrect and he was, in actual fact, only 40 minutes late. And for this he had no excuse.

He needs to understand that the modern fan has changed. We download individual tracks rather than buying whole albums so band loyalty is decreasing. He made the mistake of focusing his statement on him, instead of his fans, which did little to repair the brand damage.

Perhaps he thought actions are louder than words because he made a statement by arriving on stage two minutes early yesterday. Doesn’t exactly help the previous audience though does it?

In other news, Lord Sugar is in the middle of an employment tribunal case with The Apprentice winner Stella English who claims her prize-winning role was that of an ‘overpaid lackey’. When she challenged him, he told her he ‘didn’t give a [insert expletive].’

The trial continues but in terms of his personal PR, Lord Sugar has shown himself to be a difficult person to work for. Although I knew that all along.

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Sometimes social media silence is best

19 Dec

Following the tragic Newtown shootings in Connecticut last week, which has left America mourning, brands have continued to make light of the situation with insensitive gestures.

This isn’t uncommon. Recently I blogged on GAP and American Apparel’s misfortunes during the New York hurricanes. Amidst the disaster, both retailers thought sales were the answer and encouraged users to stay indoors and do some shopping.

What’s worrying is that brands aren’t learning the basic ‘dos an don’ts’ even after bloggers hang them out to dry.

This time around there’s been a series of mishaps.

Cerberus Capital Management
Private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, the maker of Bushmaster firearms – the gun that killed 27 people, had to pull a marketing ploy that referred to ‘avoiding eye contact with tough looking fifth graders’.

This links to Brad Phillips’ viewpoint on the PR Daily that it’s about time people stopped their prescheduled social media updates and campaigns during crises such as this to avoid foolish mistakes.

Since the shooting, Cerberus Capital Management has announced that it plans to sell the arms firm it bought in 2006.

Dansko
As highlighted by blogger Alex Judd, US footwear maker Dankso posted this on its Facebook page:

“…sometimes it’s the routine of everyday life that keeps us moving after a tragedy. You grasp for the familiar, the little things you take comfort in, even if that’s simply wearing a favourite pair of shoes and taking one step at a time.”

After a series of abuse from fans, it promptly pulled the comment and moved on without apologising – a pet peeve of mine.

Celebrity slip-up
Former Coronation Street and I’m a Celebrity star Helen Flanagan has made headlines for all the wrong reasons – re-posting an image of herself holding a gun to her head as the first Newtown funerals took place.

Helen has since turned the tables on her enemies, claiming the papers are bullying her after her ‘brainless’ tactic.

I’m not going to add to the comments Helen’s been receiving. But I will say, for brands and celebrities alike, there’s nothing wrong with social media silence in the aftermath of an event that has shaken the world.

If you can’t say anything appropriate, don’t say anything at all.

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