In this digital age, any company needs a strategy to monitor and respond to any Social Media actions BEFORE they snowball into a PR disaster.
On September 22nd a story broke on Facebook regarding a teenager with Down Syndrome being refused entry to a Queensland JB HiFi store as he was ‘blacklisted’.
It soon became apparent that it was a case of mistaken identity when the Security Guard produced a photo of the ‘offending’ teen who clearly only had DS in common.
When the Store Manager became involved he still refused entry, retorted “They all look the same” and promised to “never ever apologise”.
What followed was a PR disaster, with thousands of outraged consumers promising to boycott the chain on Social Media, a petition on Change.org reaching close to 40,000 signatures in 24 hours & most of the mainstream media picking up the story.
Since the story began trending there has been little response from management … a post saying that they were investigating & a statement from the CEO claiming that they ‘will learn from the incident & are reviewing customer policies’
An immediate personal apology & compensation of some form would have at least dampened the flames of outrage and demonstrated that the company takes responsibility for the actions of their employees.
It also would have provided an opportunity for media coverage of a meaningful gesture of restitution – instead they are concentrating on the company’s poor response.
Negative press or social coverage needs to be addressed immediately & decisively … fronting up with a big-screen TV & X-box would have cost relatively little, but done much for the company profile.
Posting a ‘limp-wristed’ statement that lacks sincerity just doesn’t cut it anymore!
As much as I dislike some of Apple’s dishonest grand-standing, you cannot fault their CEO for his immediate response to an apparent racist incident at a Highpoint Store. Could have gone further & compensated the aggrieved teenagers for their embarrassment … a court of law would surely have granted damages. – but gestures of largesse seem rare from corporate giants these days.