The DiGiorno Disaster: Why Companies Are Careless on Twitter
By Elena Novak
Hashtag activism has been a rising phenomenon, thanks to campaigns like #YesAllWomen in response to the Isla Vista killings and #IfTheyGunnedMeDown following Ferguson.
The most recent campaign involves the stories of domestic violence victims using the hashtags #WhyIStayed or #WhyILeft and surfaced after Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked his wife unconscious in an elevator.
But DiGiorno Pizza clearly missed the memo and jumped on the trend stating, “WhyIStayed You had pizza.” Apologies immediately went out as the account user explained they “did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.”
Gaffes like this are not uncommon. Sometimes a careless employee mistakes the company account for their personal account. Sometimes a user makes a poor judgment call. In most cases, someone’s just not paying enough attention.
But companies can’t afford to not pay attention when it comes to Twitter and its over 200 million users. You can delete a reckless tweet seconds after it’s posted, but it’s likely that someone, somewhere took a screenshot. It’s a PR disaster.
There’s really no surefire way to prevent such incidents from happening except to stress the nearly irreparable damage that can be done to a company’s brand.
But as with any PR disaster, the focus should not on the incident itself, but on the aftermath. The true test of a company is how it handles a misstep.
A swift and sincere apology goes a long way, but it is often not enough. DiGiorno sent out several apology tweets to diffuse the angry barrage coming in from the public.
However, humor and charity are two of the best ways to recover from a PR faux pas. In 2011, two companies worked together to accomplish both.
A Red Cross staffer accidentally tweeted, “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.” The inappropriate tweet prompted an apology from the staffer, and the company responded with a brilliantly humorous follow-up: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.”
The company’s brand was further restored when Dogfish Head started a social media fundraising campaign using the hashtag #gettngslizzerd.
The takeaway? Do more than apologize. Interact with your audience. And if you’re a pizza giant, donating some of your profits to a domestic violence shelter could be a giant idea.