5 Apr 2016

Implementing a PR strategy could avoid social media mishaps

Kine Petersen  – Intern at Spreckley

In a social media age, where news and scandals spread like wildfire on social media, small and seemingly ‘insignificant’ matters can very quickly go viral. Negative or disapproving social posts can rapidly escalate among the huge social audience and consequently result in real PR headaches for organisations and individuals alike. In this era, people can no longer afford to be reckless.

This is where PR comes in. Implementing a proper PR strategy and knowing what to say – and in many cases more importantly, what not to say – could spare reputational management and sustain good relations. Clearly, it is much easier to avoid the damage being done in the first place than to try to repair it after it has occurred. Those responsible for social platforms must remain vigilant to possible consequences of posts.

Morrisons recently experienced the wrath of social media after posting a not so cleverly worded casting ad online, searching for actors with “northern accents” – but specifically stating that those from Liverpool should not apply. This obviously didn’t sit too well with Scousers as they quickly took to Twitter to voice their anger. Before the rise of social media, this ad would probably have gone unnoticed and received little attention. But with the growth in technologies, it only takes a few actions of the thumb to instantly turn a minor situation into a major problem.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) also found itself in a similar situation, earlier this year, after launching what was perceived as an offensive campaign that ridiculed vegetarians and vegans. With ads such as pictures of cows with captions: “they eat grass so you don’t have to” and “vegetarian resistance is futile”, the restaurant chain managed to spark outrage among social users.

Following the outrage, GBK caved into pressure and removed the ads, while apologising and proclaiming that their intentions were “light-hearted”. It seems that this tactic may have saved face for the company and they have been able to bounce back nicely after the debacle.

It remains to be seen if Morrisons manages to do the same. They have already apologised profoundly, though refusing to acknowledge responsibility for the ad. Chances are that it will all blow over and be forgotten, eventually. However, the consequences could be very damaging to their business if the people of Liverpool decide to boycott Morrisons and turn towards one of its competitors. Perhaps implementing a proper PR strategy could have saved Morrisons from this social media mishap.