Rarely a week goes by that a business leader doesn’t confess to me their social media fears. They admit to leaving this useful communication tool on the table because they believe it could spin out of control. But, now, thanks to a United Kingdom bakery, I have a delicious new example of how a social media problem can be managed to a brand’s advantage. If you look at the blue box in the right corner of the Google search result below, you’ll see something amiss. Rather, I should say, something quite unsavory for a bakery’s listing.
In Chris Smith’s excellent DIGIDAY post about this social media nightmare, it’s evident Greggs’ experience and planning paid off. While many marketing/PR teams would have panicked, Greggs, after asking for more info, came back with this playful response to the first heads up about the problem:
The exchanges get even better as the bakery implores Google’s help in fixing the problem, so be sure to read the article (link below). The Greggs folks not only pulled off an amazing save, they no doubt earned deeper customer loyalty, international visibility, and a few PR awards down the road.
The point I want to make is this: Many of us are afraid of social media because we don’t have a good sense of what our brand stands for and don’t want to spend the time thinking about how we should respond in difficult situations. It would behoove every company to play the “What would we say if . . .” game regularly.
Of course, no one could have predicted the specifics of the example above. But Greggs knew that if someone said something crappy about them they would use humor and a consistent, confident approach to remind followers how wonderful a company it is. Planning for disruptive events should be part of a company’s ongoing management process. In public relations, we call it crisis communication planning. Often companies plan what to do but not what to say in an emergency or crisis.
Responsible planning starts at the top with questions such as, “What if our CFO stole money and left the country,” and extends into multiple areas of the company to considerations such as, “What if an employee sues over allergies caused by our dog-friendly office policy.” The beauty of this process is that the company is stronger, happier and much more prepared for just about anything as a result.
In such planning exercises, debate happens when no one is watching and there is the luxury of time to consider multiple perspectives and ramifications. Everyone becomes better prepared and knows their role. In the business world, that’s even better than a box of Greggs goodies. Read the article: UK baker Greggs pulls off a charming social media save.