Good luck keeping up.
News, events and crises move like a flash of lightning. As a communicator or a marketer, you can find yourself neck-deep in trouble because you decided to walk to the sub shop next door to pick-up your lunch.
Today’s case in point: Entenmann’s.
The pastry maker published a tweet yesterday to jump on a trending topic: the #notguilty hashtag.
The hashtag was related to what many considered a surprise verdict in the murder trial of Casey Anthony. The trial of the 25-year-old mother accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter has been a staple on cable TV news stations for the last six weeks with CNN often breaking in for live testimony.
On Tuesday, the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the murder charges. Under the hashtag #notguity, many people on Twitter expressed their frustration and disappointment with the verdict. Many of the tweets were emotional and others quite profane. In the middle of this stumbled Entenmann’s.
The company tweeted: “Who’s #notguity about eating all the tasty treats they want?!”
The backlash was instantaneous – and furious. Twitter turned ugly and angrily on the company and forced an apology and a deletion of the offending post. According to Entenmann’s Twitter explanation:
“Sorry everyone, we weren’t trying to reference the trial with our tweet! We should have checked the trending hashtag first.”
Entenmann’s social media agency, which manages the brand’s Twitter account, issued an apology on its blog within hours. The post said in part:
“The truth is, our team was leveraging the trending topics and moving so fast they neglected to see what the hashtag was related to. It was obviously insensitive, and on behalf of the entire Likeable team and our client, Entenmann’s, I’m sorry. Please know that I am working on refining our process to ensure that this does not happen again.”
There has since been dozens of blog posts and news articles written about the incident (include this one among them). Google listed 58 news stories when you search on “Entenmann’s and Twitter.” Mainstream media outlets like the Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC picked up the news and ran with it.
There is already a fake Entenmann’s PR Twitter account (which appears to have once been a fake Kenneth Cole Twitter account) with more than 6,000 followers.
This is the new life cycle of a crisis. Say something off-the-cuff or too quickly on a social media channel – and havoc breaks out in real-time. It can feel like a tidal wave as the gaff is shared, spread and trends within hours. As it trends, social media bloggers hop on and that forces the mainstream media into the fray.
Brands – and people – are being punished – sometimes ruthlessly – for these errors, which in the grand scheme of things are rather trivial. Entenmann’s made a mistake and apologized.
What’s left to say after that?
But the piling on can continue for hours – even days afterward.
The good news may be that because we are moving at hyper speed we’re off to the next thing almost as fast. So a brand – or person – that is humble and sincere in their apology can weather the storm as our attention quickly moves elsewhere.
Welcome to hyper speed people.
New York Times article on Casey Anthony verdict
Washington Post/TechCrunch post on Entenmann’s and Twitter
Statement from Entenmann’s social media agency