Using Social Media to Ward Off a PR Crisis

Last week, I wrote about the importance of including social media in crisis communications planning and I wanted to touch on it again, as I found another interesting piece on the subject. I follow Mashables on Twitter and this week, they tweeted on “What Brands Can Learn From Taco Bell’s Social Media Lawsuit Defense, which linked to Taco Bell Uses Social Media to Ward Off PR Crisis.

A lawsuit was filed recently alleging Taco Bell misleads consumers with advertisements claiming its products contain “ground beef,” when the majority of its meat filling is made up of non-meat substances.  Taco Bell has decided fighting back by means of its Facebook Page, Twitter account and YouTube channel, and I’ve noticed this type of public relations and handling occurs more and more in times of crisis. Before the days of social media, brands would often choose to avoid the limelight as long as possible or offer few comments and an apology in hopes that the news would expire quickly.

The new approach in treating difficult situations is exactly what consumers want – transparency.  Although the general population knows the company in question likely has an elaborate PR team who writes their key messages and trains the spokespeople, the public does appreciate when a brand owns up to its mistake and gives the public an opportunity to create their own opinion (and not that of the media).

In some instances, some would argue that, although the idea of using social media to confront issues head is frightening, taking responsibility for mistakes could actually help a brand.  By being transparent, brands are showing respect for their consumers, and that, is invaluable.

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~ by Anick on February 16, 2011.

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