Kitchen Aid found itself in an unfortunate situation last night during the presidential debate as a misguided tweet was sent from the company account.
Moments after President Obama mentioned his late grandmother, the following tweet was sent from @KitchenAidUSA:
“Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’. #nbcpolitics”
Now I’m sure one of the people on the Kitchen Aid’s twitter team meant to send this out from a personal account. AND I’m sure the moment they hit send their entire life flashed before their eyes as they realized their mistake.
The tweet was deleted quickly and the following tweet was sent out:
“Deepest apologies for an irresponsible tweet that is in no way a representation of the brand’s opinion. #nbcpolitics”
Kudos to Kitchen Aid for the quick response and apology. Shortly thereafter, Cynthia Soledad, from Kitchen Aid, took the communication reins and issued apologies on Twitter and Facebook. I think she handled the situation as best she could.
This story, though, is far from over.. I’m sure we will see interviews from Kitchen Aid detailing the gaffe over the next week. And this is a perfect case study for college communication classes for years to come.
But this situation begs the questions … how do you avoid these situations and what do you do when something like this happens?
Running a company’s social media account should not be given to just anyone in the company. The people behind the tweets and Facebook updates are extensions of the brand. They are the voice. These people need to be trained on how the brand should be represented and what to say. And if something goes awry they should have the tools and authority necessary to handle appropriately.
I’m sure the Kitchen Aid employee who tweeted was using a Twitter client that allows for multiple accounts to be accessed from one application. While this solution is simple and time efficient, it may be wise to set up different applications that only have access to certain accounts. While this may be more work, it could help mitigate public blunders in the future.
Crisis Management Plan
While it is standard practice for public relations professionals to create crisis management plans for disasters, public mishaps and any other foreseeable problem, I am not sure how many have crisis management plans set up for social media issues.
- Create a phone tree of key contact people that should be notified if something happens.
- Have pre-approved answers or statements that can be immediately posted. Immediately posting an answer and following up with more details when they become available show that your company is actively tackling the problem at hand.
- Make sure you have a designated spokesperson who can take over social media communication and has the authority to answer backlash and questions in a timely manner.
While we can’t see into the future putting steps into place to help mitigate a social media crisis is something every business should do – whether they are a local Fresno company or a national company.
~ Tanya Osegueda, Outreach & New Media Manager