Today, July 20, 2012, is a very sad day in US history. The shooting in Aurora, CO was an unforgivable, heinous act of cruelty against humanity. Though it seems not everyone was aware of the situation at hand earlier today. @NRA_Rifleman and @Celebboutique were clearly present when they tweeted messages this morning, weren’t they? Probably not. Let the PR crisis begin!
I’d put money on it that @NRA_Rifleman scheduled this tweet ahead of time and was nowhere near this Twitter account when it was posted. Lesson 1: Just because you schedule posts on social channels doesn’t mean you can just forget about it and go on with your daily life. You always need to be aware of what is being posted every single day. Soon after this post was made, it was retweeted and condemned by many and was quickly deleted. A little while later, we learned the account was deleted, in a very cowardly fashion.
Here’s another winner. You can tell this wasn’t automated because it mentioned a current trending topic, #Aurora. I had seen this retweeted in my Twitter stream shortly after it happened and was flabbergasted! I thought, “what idiots!!”. What ensued was an onslaught of negative replies chastising Celeb Boutique for the insensitive post they just made regarding #Aurora. Later, as @Celebboutique tweeted 4 more times apologizing for their blatant stupidity, we learned that they outsource their PR efforts overseas. Lesson 2: If you’re going to outsource your PR or social media work, make sure you are all on the same page! The worst part about this was it seemed they knew what they were doing by putting in a “wink” face, playing off the #Aurora trending hashtag. They claimed they didn’t know what the trending topic represented, but few believe that “hot air” statement. Lesson 3: If you’re going to use a hashtag in your tweet, especially a trending one, you better damn well do your research about what it represents or why it’s trending or you’ll be dealing with similar problems that Celeb Boutique is fighting with today.
LESSON 1: You always need to be aware of what is being posted every single day on your social channels, especially if it’s scheduled ahead of time.
LESSON 2: When outsourcing your PR or social media work, especially if outside the US, you still need to be in the loop of what is being posted or you’ll be dreadfully surprised with negative PR for a long time if something goes wrong.
LESSON 3: It takes a matter of seconds to research a hashtag’s meaning, take the time and learn. Just because it is trending, that doesn’t give you the immediate go-ahead to jump on that bandwagon.
The big takeaway from this is your company’s decision to automate their social posts or outsource their PR or social media efforts. Most companies build an editorial calendar with social content and often throw posts into Hootsuite or Buffer and go on willynilly. This is normal, but you cannot forget what you put in there each day because events like today happen at random. If you work in public relations, social media or operate social channels for a company you always need to be aware of what is going on in the world when posting to a social account, especially Twitter. Social media and PR never sleep, which means you always need to be prepared and aware. Crisis management in social media and public relations is something everyone should learn how to deal with, because it can happen to anyone.
Will we ever learn?