Is the Taco Bell licking an already forgotten prank, or a social media crisis?


Social media, presumably still in its childhood or early adolescent years, continues to play smashmouth with companies and those they hire to protect their images.

Two useful stories and an excellent comment crossed under my nose and passed the sniff test, thanks to EMA partner and PR Director Mary Beth Popp.

Here’s the first, from, or at least related to, Taco Bell [no relation]. After all the ewwwwws, what’s it mean, long-term? Was the food served? What does it say about the company? Will customers flee?

Which brings us to the second story, by Melissa Agnes, about how to react to social media-induced and promoted injury. The [presumably] bi-lingual crisis pro from Montreal runs Melissa Agnes Crisis Management and offered four smart rules for engagement or avoidance of social media.

First things first: Try to get it  removed.

Your online reputation should go  further than review sites.

Encourage happy customers to leave  you positive reviews.

Be aware [Monitor social media closely and track what’s said].

In all this discussion emerged a comment on the Taco Bell story from Las Vegas-based PR pro @gregwbrooks:

The best part of this whole kerfuffle is all the wannabe social media gurus running around saying “See!?! This is a CRISIS! This is why you have to have active management of your reputation online!!!!” (/dead faint from the drama) Look, you *should* actively manage your reputation online — but what’s Taco Bell going to do? They issued a statement, they probably fired the guy and you know what? Sales next quarter are not going to take a hit from any of this. Of all the annoyances of social media, its tendency to make flacks everywhere think Something Must Be Done Right Now is probably the most tiresome.

Great discussion. No clear, blanket answers.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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