Friday, 11 December 2009

Online reputation management and the killers

So I went to watch the Killers in Paarl this weekend and what a concert it was. Getting there was a bit of a nightmare and so we missed Goldfish and Zebra and Giraffe but the Killers were out of this world. The R100 extra for Golden circle was well worth it and we had a killer time (sorry, couldn’t resist). We went to the party at the Polo club afterwards which was also great fun. All in all it was an awesome jol but that’s not why I’m writing.

The reason why I am writing is because some attendees of the concert spent 4 hours getting to the concert and 5 hrs getting back home afterwards and I’d like to have a look at the manner in which Big Concerts responded.

The bigger question is, if a brand or organisation has stepped out of line or blundered massively, what is the best course of action online? I’m not certain of the answer to that but lets see what Big Concerts had to say and perhaps we can let you decide the rest.

Firstly to Big Concerts credit, they were very quick, they had a press release out the following morning and this is what it said:

The thing which created frustration is that they stated that they had planned thoroughly and what had happened was beyond their control. The thing with social media (the comments box on and 2oceansvibe) is that it does not allow one sided stories. There were 1000’s of eyewitnesses who said that it was very poorly planned and it was impossible to expect that many cars to exit on one dirt road. What made this problem worse for Big Concerts is that all these readers who disagreed with the press release were also angry and had spent 4 hours in their cars and so they really wanted to vent….

So what unfolded was hundreds of responses across numerous websites and pretty much all of them had the same sentiment. Have a look below at a few comments from the site and just a note, I wasn’t taking the really bad ones, these were just three short comments in a row

I think this is a great example of how different today’s media is. In the past Big Concerts would have published this press release and the job would have been finished but now angry readers get to have their say and challenge the integrity of the statement for the world to see.

So this brings me back to the question on which I started this post, if there is a “Reputation Crisis” of this nature online, how does an organisation deal with it.

I think the most important answer to that question is that one must be 100% transparent and honest on every point. If an online statement misrepresents the actual events in any way the online world will expose the truth. There were 20 000 people at the concert and they all had to exit on one road and so, the truth is that the “rigorous logistics guy” should have foreseen a problem.

It is also vital to monitor digital media and online forums, this allows you to react appropriately when you can see a problem getting out of hand. There were 180 comments on the blog alone and yet no response from Big Concerts.

At the end of the day, I have been to plenty of Big Concerts gigs and to date and they have all been great. This is the company who have brought everything from Roxette and the Spice Girls to U2 and Counting Crows to South Africa over the last 20 years and I think that is something important to remember in times when things go wrong.

So Big Concerts, thanks for making South Africa a better place over the years but this time you cocked up, I say you stand up and own it and this little youtube clip from Jet Blue is a great example of a company doing just that.

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