Today’s entry is based on one of the 20 case studies in my position paper, “Beyond the Bottom Line: 20 Ways to Reduce Reputational Risk.”
One of your workers tweets about drunken escapades at your employee development retreat.
A series of ribald Twitter messages over a one-hour period exposed (pardon the pun) a hearty evening of drinking games, slurs about management, and libertine liaisons. All this occurred during your annual offsite employee development session.
Externally, your top customers have pledged to review their business relationship with you. In fact, one has already pulled out of negotiations for a big contract scheduled to commence next year.
Plus, all that budget dedicated to the employee retreat is down the drain. Who can take things seriously with everyone glued to their phones and the bawdy photo display?
The Reputational Costs
The verbal tweets were bad enough. Worse, the tech savvy offender took advantage of Twitter’s video capability to shoot several 20-second clips that laid bare (oops, please pardon again) the fun and games for the whole world to see.
There goes your company’s heretofore squeaky clean image. Your CEO, who, of course, had no idea this was happening, has vowed that heads will roll. Those heads include not only the offending tweet meister and his co-stars in the video, but the team that organized the retreat; they were held responsible for trying to create a “fun” experience that served to encourage the tawdry behavior.
Naturally, the tweets—especially the videos—went viral. The most common refrain came from those who, tongue-in-cheek, wondered how they could get a job at such a laid back workplace.
- Your management team has to explain how this happened and to ensure shaky customers how it will work to prevent future occurrences.
- It’s time to activate your communications crisis plan (you do have one, don’t you?). Part of this plan should involve a rapid response via new media channels. In this instance, using Twitter to apologize to your customers and explain how you plan to prevent similar exploits in the future is mandatory.
- Use “An 8-step Program for Using Social Media in Your Communications Efforts” as a guide for your rapid response efforts with new media tools.