Recently, PR Daily put out a list of the “10 Worst PR Disasters of 2012.“
Finding itself smack dab in the middle at #5 was Hurricane Sandy.
Now, you might think that’s a little unfair… after all, Sandy was a natural disaster, not a mistake based on poor planning. However, the crises which followed were completely unrelated to nature’s interference, but the opposite: the crisis came from staying on schedule.
It’s one thing to sensitively acknowledge devastation and then jump right back to the regularly scheduled social media messaging… But it’s certainly another thing to try and connect the natural disaster with bringing in more money for your specific brand.
The culprits of this are American Apparel and Gap.
American Apparel decided to “be relevant” by creating a Sandy Storm discount. Unfortunately, they didn’t predict that their customers had other things on their mind than fashion in the storm aftermath…
By posting this, American Apparel appeared to be unconcerned with the serious impact Sandy had on real people. They seem to only view their followers as customers, instead of a community. They push their agenda and ignore the fact that Americans are hurting.
Another culprit of trying to use the storm for their own gain was The Gap, who encouraged Twitter followers to do lots of Gap.com shopping, just characters after telling Sandy victims to stay safe… They seemed oblivious to the fact that 900,000 New Yorkers alone were without power, but presumed people to be doing nothing but sitting around shopping.
Fortunately for them, the tweet was soon deleted and an apology statement was made…. However, it only takes one person to take a screen shot for the tweet to go viral, and The Gap had plenty of complaints from the internet world/
So, in the case of a natural disaster, how should brands handle themselves on social media?
- Pause your previously scheduled tweets.
- Stay silent. It’s much better to keep quiet on an issue than to Tweet something you’ll regret! However, if you do decide to speak up….
- Create new content based on connection not sales
- Get personal: Connect with the individuals who are hurting. Show that you’re interested in more than just a customer’s credit card.
Don’t feel like reading more? Click here to watch “The 9 Biggest Brand Fails Exploiting Hurricane Sandy”