When I saw this tweet, it raised my eyebrow. I thought it interesting that the Paula Deen brand – and I’m assuming that Paula Deen is not personally tweeting here, but a staff member – would tweet a fill in the blank and ask for responses. With any brand, a request could be a wildcard like with hashtags campaigns in good times. In turbulent times, this would open a brand to an onslaught of community snark and outrage.
That’s what happened here. People certainly shared answers all right:
These type of answers above I’m pretty sure the brand was not looking for.
Paula Deen as a person and as a brand is in crisis. Reputation troubles started in 2012 when Deen admitted she had diabetes after becoming a spokesperson for a diabetes drug. She had been keeping her condition quiet as she continued to promote less than healthy food choices. Fast forward to June 2013, in her deposition in the lawsuit brought by her former restaurant manager, charging racial and sexual harassment, she admitted using racial slurs in the past. Since this current scandal broke, her show’s contract with the Food Network has not been renewed, she has lost ten major sponsors from Walmart to Smithfields, and her upcoming cookbook publication has been halted. It is unsure if she will survive this crisis.
Engaging on Twitter in this manner is not a smart move when a brand is in crisis. It is opening up them to more unwanted attention. In fact looking at Deen’s Twitter stream, it is business as usual pushing out content making them tone deaf to the situation they are currently in. Paula Deen needs to make herself and her brand scarce for a lot longer than a couple of weeks. There needs to be a cooling off period. Then she needs to reintroduce herself and her brand carefully.
Right now there is a disconnect happening within the Paula Deen brand. During a crisis all channels need to be managed as a team. Every outgoing communication needs to vetted and coordinated by the crisis response team. At this present time, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Today, PR professionals and laypeople are all asking the same thing, “What was she thinking?” I don’t have an answer to that question. What I will say the brand will continue to suffer prolonging the crisis and preventing them from going into recovery mode.
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Some brands have to learn these very real lessons. They mis-understood the idea to tweet something (anything) to take the minds of the case in point. Be careful and plan these carefully or do nothing if you cannot control it.
Clive, thanks for stopping by. Appreciate it. There is a disconnect happening and it appears her communication teams are working in silos not a team.
I think this episode stems from a lack of understanding on how social media works.
And just as a side note: “Ku Klux Clams”? That’s hilarious!
The problem really isn’t a social media problem as much as it is a communication problem. We saw this all before when marketers couldn’t pull adverts fast enough in a crisis. It’s not necessarily because people aren’t thinking (well, they aren’t), it’s that they leave their brand on a sort of autopilot, forgetting that the brand is relationship between the customer and the organization. And thus, in a crisis, that relationship has temporarily changed.