How Crock-Pot Used Crisis Communications to Put out a Fire

How Crock-Pot Used Crisis Communications to Put out a Fire

Marketing

The days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday were a nightmare for Newell Brands, maker of the iconic Crock-Pot, thanks to an unexpected crisis triggered by a TV drama that involved a make-believe death caused by a Crock-Pot. Following is a closer look at how a fictional event caused a real-life problem for a $13 billion business – and how quick thinking contained the problem.

What Happened

The show, This is Us, an emotional drama that follows the generational story of the Pearson family, took television by storm in the fall of 2016.  The series averages about 15 million viewers a week in the coveted 18-49 year old demographic. Spoiler alert: in one of the episodes, the family’s beloved father, Jack, suffers a heart attack as a result of a massive smoke inhalation caused by a house fire. On January 23, during the episode “That’ll Be the Day,” viewers learned what caused the fire in the first place: a Crock-Pot.

Viewers watched as an elderly neighbor delivered a used Crock-Pot to the young, newly married Pearson couple. The neighbor said that the Crock-Pot’s power switch was a little temperamental but assured them that they would still be able to enjoy some good family meals. Flash forward to years later as the couple, now with teen-aged children, celebrate the Super Bowl.  The show ends with Jack turning off the Crock-Pot switch before going to bed. A spark flashes from the faulty switch, igniting a fire, and the house quickly becomes engulfed in flames.

Crisis Time

As I watched that episode with my husband, the marketing gears in my head immediately started turning. I thought about the backlash that Crock-Pot would be facing as it was revealed the product was responsible for the beloved character’s death. I told my husband that I hoped Crock-Pot’s PR team would immediately start working on a plan to offset any damage incurred by the revelation. I suggested they flood social media with a response ASAP so as to minimize the negative impact. It was then I realized that we could very personally be affected by this unforeseen series of events: my husband is employed by the company that owns Crock-Pot, Newell Brands.

By the next day, Crock-Pot was headlining news stories:

And while it may seem silly to think the death of a fictional TV character could cause such a hardship for a long-established household brand, the facts were hard to dispute. People were tweeting about throwing away their Crock-Pots. The safety of the product was called into question. The value of Newell Brands stock fell by 24 percent, and the loss was immediately linked by many to the Crock-Pot fire disaster. In reality, the stock plunge occurred after Newell Brands announced disappointing guidance for 2018. But nonetheless the brand was under attack after a perceived safety hazard.

Newell Brands Takes Action

The Crock-Pot communication/social team immediately jumped into action. For instance, the brand worked to restore trust in its product by releasing a statement. Here is an excerpt:

For nearly 50 years with over 100 million Crock-Pots sold, we have never received any consumer complaints similar to the fictional events portrayed in last night’s episode. In fact, the safety and design of our product renders this type of event nearly impossible.

(The full statement is available here.)

This is Us creator, Dan Fogelman, also followed up with a tweet defending the company’s product:

Crock-Pot quickly created its first ever Twitter Account “CrockPotCares,” engaging with concerned consumers as the social media storm continued to ignite. While all of these responses were appropriate and wise measures to take, Crock-Pot knocked it out of the park when the brand teamed up with NBC and Milo Ventimiglia (who portrays Jack in the TV show) to create a hilarious new promo ad for the show’s much anticipated Super Bowl episode February 4.

In what appears to be a political ad, Milo starts off in a somber tone speaking about how the country is divided and how we need to come together. As he continues to talk about forgiveness, the camera pans to him scooping up a bowl of chili from, you guessed it . . . a Crock-Pot!  The brilliant ad ends with a black screen with the Crock-Pot logo and the hashtag #CrockPotIsInnocent.

Results

On February 3, after the promo ad was shown, digital content engagement around Crock-Pot increased by 84 percent, and there were nearly 2,000 tweets using the hashtag #CrockPotIsInnocent, with sentiment around that hashtag being 57 percent positive — the most common sentiment being that it was hilarious and a brilliant promotion for Crock-Pot.

Lessons learned? If a well-established brand such as Crock-Pot can incur such negative consequences from a fictional TV storyline, it should be a warning to every company about the importance of having a solid strategy in place to combat such challenges. Reach customers quickly through social channels and look for a unique way to re-establish your brand’s positive image. Time is of the essence — so act fast! In a matter of a few days, Crock-Pot succeeded in turning a PR nightmare into a successful restoration of trust  in its brand.

Advertising on Facebook? Get Ready for Tough Sledding Ahead

Advertising on Facebook? Get Ready for Tough Sledding Ahead

Social media

Facebook has quickly changed from the brand that could do no wrong to the business that spreads fake news. Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that the company is de-valuing publisher content on users’ news feeds caused a notable drop in its stock value and inspired a CNN article with a once unthinkable headline, “Mark Zuckerberg Is Fighting to Save Facebook.” Facebook isn’t going away. But with the recent admission by former Facebook executives that the social media platform was designed to get its users addicted and that it is ripping apart the social fabric of how society works, 2018 might be the year we see a significant decline in active users.

Although industry analysts have been predicting a reduction in Facebook users for the past few years, the fact that ex-Facebook executives are admitting guilt over the monster they’ve created might finally be the wakeup call that many social media users have been waiting for. If Facebook usage does suffer a significant decline, it’s fair to expect that marketers will also see diminished performance from their Facebook ads. Many advertisers use the Facebook advertising platform as a brand awareness tactic, paying advertising fees based on the number of times an ad is shown versus the number of times someone interacts with an ad. “Reach” (the number of people who saw an ad) is a metric commonly monitored by advertisers, and when the pool of potential audience members declines, so does the effectiveness of their branding efforts.

The most obvious expected drop-off would be among younger members as parents may begin to heed the addiction warning and implement usage restrictions for their children. Currently, advertisers cannot specifically target people under the age of 13 — so there should be minimal effect on paid ad performance if Facebook sees a decline in users age 12 and under.  However, if parents or older siblings start following suit (perhaps by means of setting an example or simply choosing to spend their time elsewhere) the impact could be significant to marketers who have become accustomed to reaching millions of people.

As the Facebook audience narrows, marketers may need to adjust their strategy and opt for conversion-based campaigns versus brand awareness. Measuring the overall effectiveness of a brand awareness campaign is difficult to quantify. But as advertisers start tracking actual results from their conversion campaigns, they may find the cost far outweighs the return and may choose to pull back on their overall Facebook investment.

My advice: keep a watchful eye on Facebook as an advertising platform. Take advantage of the tools we have blogged about (such as Collection ads), but make sure you complement your advertising spend across multiple platforms where it makes sense for your business to be, ranging from Google to Instagram. Get ready for tough sledding on Facebook. For more insight into how to build your brand with digital, contact Keyword First. We’re here to help.

Brands, Get Ready for Video on LinkedIn

Brands, Get Ready for Video on LinkedIn

Marketing

Organic video for company pages is coming to LinkedIn. It’s only a matter of time. Businesses need to be ready to capitalize on the opportunity.

Video content is already a major way businesses and people communicate on the internet. According to Kleiner Perkins, video accounts for 74 percent of all Web traffic, and 55 percent of people watch video every day according to MWP. In 2017, LinkedIn started to catch up to other social platforms that have become more accommodating to video content when the company made it possible for users to create personal videos on its mobile app.

For LinkedIn, the introduction of video meant that its users could create more engaging stories about themselves, especially in a business setting. For example, in a blog post about LinkedIn video, LinkedIn cited the example of the president of an equipment company using video to demonstrate how her company’s forklifts operate.

Since then, LinkedIn has indicated to KeywordFirst that the company plans to bring native sponsored videos in the feed as part of its 2018 advertising plans. The timing could not be better. On January 11, Facebook announced the company will downgrade content from publishers in users’ news feeds. This move will pressure more publishers to look to other platforms such as LinkedIn to engage people with their content.

Businesses should prepare for video coming to your LinkedIn pages. For example, if you post video regularly on other platforms, create a strategy for cross-posting content on LinkedIn. You might want to start by testing different types of video to see what kind of content creates more engagement on LinkedIn versus Facebook or Instagram although these days the content between Facebook and LinkedIn is converging. LinkedIn used to be a platform for people to post business-related content, but more and more users are posting personal stories that would appear on the surface to be more suitable for Facebook. Businesses that rely on employee ambassadors to humanize their brands with more personal content might find LinkedIn to be an attractive destination for video content.

It also makes sense to earmark a larger LinkedIn advertising budget. LinkedIn will certainly incorporate video into its advertising products to monetize video and create more engagement for brands. Especially with Facebook becoming less friendly to brands, LinkedIn looks more attractive.

As I mentioned in a recent KeywordFirst blog post predicting 2018 trends, LinkedIn is becoming a more popular platform for companies to build their brands. LinkedIn has been adding a number of features such as Matched Audiences and Website Retargeting to make it a stronger advertising platform. Recently LinkedIn ran a pilot program with more 370 participating advertisers and saw a 30-percent increase in click-through rates and a 14-percent drop in post-click cost-per-conversion with Website Retargeting. Businesses should already be taking a closer look at LinkedIn as part of their advertising and content marketing strategies – and make sure you include video.

For more insight into how to build your brand across the digital world, contact KeywordFirst. We’re here to help.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/video-camera-optics-photography-2562034/

KeywordFirst Predicts 6 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

KeywordFirst Predicts 6 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2018

Marketing

What trends will influence how businesses spend their digital marketing dollars in 2018? To find the answers, we asked our own people. The following six predictions from KeywordFirst employees cover a lot of ground befitting the sprawling nature of digital marketing. Our predictions include:

  • A big year for augmented reality – for both brands and consumers.
  • Possibly rough sailing ahead for Facebook, but exciting times for LinkedIn.
  • A more thoughtful approach to influencer marketing.
  • Growth of visual search.

Check out the following predictions, and let us know how you believe 2018 will shape up for your business. Thank you to KeywordFirst employees for sharing your thoughts! Learn more about our subject matter experts here.

Augmented Reality

In 2018 the use of Augmented Reality will become an increasingly popular tool used to engage shoppers. Online shoppers sometimes miss out on the in-store experience when searching for a product or service through the web. The use of AR will help create this virtual experience for online shoppers; in return it will increase engagement rates, brand awareness, and hopefully conversions. While the technology to effectively use AR will still be developing well into 2018, I predict that many companies will begin to incorporate these features into their brand awareness and digital marketing strategy. —Bella Schneider, digital marketing associate

Facebook

With the recent admission by former Facebook executives that the social media platform was designed to get its users addicted and that it is ripping apart the social fabric of how society works, 2018 might be the year we see a significant decline in active users. Although industry analysts have been predicting a reduction in Facebook users for the past few years, the fact that ex-Facebook executives are admitting guilt over the monster they’ve created might finally be the wakeup call that many social media users have been waiting for. If Facebook usage does suffer a significant decline, it’s fair to expect that marketers will also see diminished performance from their Facebook ads. Many advertisers use the Facebook advertising platform as a brand awareness tactic, paying advertising fees based on the number of times an ad is shown versus the number of times someone interacts with an ad. In 2018, advertisers will need to keep a watchful eye on Facebook as an advertising platform. — Beth Bauch, senior manager

Influencer Outreach

Celebrity influencer outreach took a major hit in 2017 through some dubious events such as the collapse of the Fyre Festival, which relied on influencer outreach to lure tourists to a disastrous event. But influencer outreach is alive and well. Why? Because people tend to trust other people more than they do brands. Businesses will get more micro-targeted with influencer outreach in 2018, segmenting audiences more carefully and building outreach around influencers who index high in popularity and credibility with those audiences even if those influencers lack national cache. Influencer outreach will become more targeted and scientific. — Mark Smith, co-founder

LinkedIn

LinkedIn will become a more popular platform for companies to build their brands. LinkedIn has been adding a number of features such as Matched Audiences and Website Retargeting to make it a stronger advertising platform. As my colleague Beth Bauch noted on our blog, recently LinkedIn ran a pilot program with more 370 participating advertisers and saw a 30-percent increase in click-through rates and a 14-percent drop in post-click cost-per-conversion with Website Retargeting. In early 2018, LinkedIn is going to launch for enterprises organic videos and then native sponsored videos in its feed, thus capitalizing on the more visually oriented culture we have become. Businesses should take a closer look at LinkedIn as part of their advertising and content marketing strategies. —Taylor Murphy, digital media manager

Social Media

Social media will remain a messy and imperfect place for brands to live. The major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube will roll out more programs to police user activity on their sites in an effort to protect their integrity for advertisers. Recently we saw YouTube do just that by committing to hiring more people to teach computers to police its site, which YouTube hopes will prevent advertisers’ content from appearing next to inappropriate content. But as my colleague Tim Colucci argued recently, YouTube’s ad problems aren’t going away. Social media sites have become incredibly effective destinations for advertisers and will continue to be. But part of the appeal of social media is its openness. On social media, anyone can have an opinion. In 2018, advertisers will need to come to terms with the imperfect nature of social while capitalizing on its many advantages.  — Kurt Anagnostopolous, owner/founder

 Visual Search

As voice-based search continues to gain momentum, 2018 will bring more interest onto visual search. Although they both use artificial intelligence, they have a different focus, thus their use is not the same. Voice search is best suited for providing access to information on known objects, as systems become more capable distinguishing the context of a certain request. Visual search, on the other hand, is ideal for in-the-moment discovery, as it can provide contextual information for any object we can see. Now that Google has improved its visual analysis software Google Lens, and Pinterest has adopted the trend with Pinterest Lens, we’ll most likely see more social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram exploiting visual discovery technology. In this way, they could serve ads based on what people take pictures of. They could even combine location service intelligence with visual product recognition technology to provide even more relevant ads. So if you snap a selfie at McDonalds, and you are wearing a Nike hat, you will be served ads from Burger King and Reebok on Snapchat. —Héctor Ariza, digital marketing associate

Image source: ancient-code.com

4 Ways to Turn Employees into Brand Ambassadors

4 Ways to Turn Employees into Brand Ambassadors

Social media

Your biggest social media advocates might be hiding in plain sight: your employees.

Compelling content, influencer outreach, and paid media are important elements of any social media strategy. But too often, businesses overlook or undervalue the role of their own people in building brand advocacy through social media.

Your employees should be your biggest fans. Employees live and breathe the brand every day. Businesses should encourage their employees to be advocates. When you encourage your employees to speak on behalf of your brand, you demonstrate trust in them. And doing so is just smart marketing. Employees probably have a larger presence than your business does – most certainly collectively and sometimes even individually if you employ high-profile people who blog actively and post often on their socials.

But many people do not post about their employer on their personal social media pages. Oftentimes, the impediment is not a reluctance to talk about their employers but rather a lack of understanding of the ground rules for doing so. Still others just need to be prompted with compelling content. In either case, the brand itself can encourage social sharing by playing an active role. Employees need education, motivation, and inspiration from the company to be active brand advocates on social media.

Here are some ways to get started.

Listen to Your Staff

The first step to cultivating employees as brand ambassadors is listening to them.

Employees provide a valuable source of social listening. Their input shared on public social sites such as Glassdoor, as well as their own socials, will make you more aware of how they feel about the brand. Moreover, their input on social channels (including internal ones such as Slack) can provide valuable feedback on your products and services. This information should help you gain insight on what to educate your staff on and if there are any problems. You need your people to be happy and satisfied at work, not only to perform well but to also be brand ambassadors.

Educate Your Staff

Employees want and need ground rules for talking about you on social media. Ground rules are more than a list of dos and don’ts. They empower employees by giving them examples of how to (and how not to) discuss your company. Ground rules are especially critical for publicly traded companies, where disclosing the wrong information at the wrong time can put a business at risk for disciplinary action from the government.

So, create a plan for social media – a plan with guidelines – and educate everyone in the company, not just people in HR and Legal.

You might find it useful to involve an outside perspective, such as a social media expert who takes charge of educating your entire staff on social media guidelines, content, and brand storytelling. Outside voices can provide ideas and lessons learned from a wide variety of businesses, not just yours.

Give Your Employees Something to Share

When you share great content with employees, they’ll share it publicly. But you have to share it rather than expect them to find it. For instance:

  • Do all your employees know about what you post on your own corporate socials, such as your Facebook and Instagram accounts? Do they know you have accounts and where to find them?
  • When an employee achieves something to celebrate, do you let your employees know and link to your own social spaces where you’ve noted the achievement?
  • Do you keep your employees abreast of when your company is in the news?
  • How well do you share your corporate thought leadership with all your employees, such as blog posts and white papers?

Employees are especially willing to talk up your thought leadership when they realize that sharing your branded content will uplift other employees.

Inspire Your Staff

Employees don’t always have time to be brand ambassadors – until you make the process easy. They sometimes feel like sharing content about your brand is a chore – until you make the process fun.

Making content-sharing easy means getting little things right, such as sharing a short link and hashtag for the information you want people to share, as well as links to your socials in every communication (rather than assuming employees remember where to find your socials).

Making content easy to share also means going so far as to explain why the content matters and the value of sharing it. If you want employees to tweet about a company accomplishment, give them tweet-worthy headlines.

You can also make social sharing fun by giving shout-outs to employees who are active brand ambassadors – and by linking to their socials on your corporate socials when appropriate. In both instances, you’re doing what comes natural in social media: rewarding through recognition.

Next Steps

If you’re inspired to do a better job cultivating your employees as brand ambassadors, I would suggest doing the following;

  • Do an audit of your own social media program. Make sure you have your own house in order before you ask your employees to put their socials to work for you.
  • Enlist the help of your employees. Consider creating a small team of highly influential employees and ask them for ideas and oversight of a brand ambassador program.
  • Create a strategy for how you’ll operate. A strategy should include everything from goals to sources of content and approaches for getting employees involved.
  • Have an ongoing mechanism in place to share and get feedback from employees about your program. Learn from them and adjust as you go along.

Developing an employee brand ambassador program can be exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling. When done right, employee brand ambassador programs generate more buzz and excitement for your brand than you could accomplish through your corporate socials. For more insight, contact KeywordFirst. We’re here to help.

Image source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-chill-computer-connection-450271/

What to Do When You Commit a Social Media Blunder

What to Do When You Commit a Social Media Blunder

Social media

Even superstars commit social media blunders.

Recently, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant found himself in a lot of hot water for committing a few embarrassing social media gaffes:

  • First, he exercised poor judgment on Twitter by trash-talking his former employer, the Oklahoma City Thunder, including calling out his coach – an action that brought the wrath of the internet down on him.
  • At about the same time, he was caught using multiple fake Internet accounts to defend himself against his critics.

His actions also embarrassed the Warriors somewhat, whose name was inevitably mentioned alongside the negative blowback even though the team had nothing to do with his actions.

But Kevin Durant is not the only one committing gaffes, which seemingly happen to brands every day somewhere. In fact, if your brand has an active social media presence, you should assume that someday your name will get dragged through the social media mud:

  • A video of one of your employees acting rudely might go viral.
  • Someone on your own social media team might publish poorly timed or questionable content.
  • An employee might leak an internal email that probably should not have been written in the first place.

You’ve seen it all and more. So have we. How do you respond? Here are a few tips:

Act Quickly

The moment you see something going wrong (you do have someone on your team actively monitoring your brand name, right?), convene a team charged with taking quick action. A social media crisis is all-hands-on-deck time. Your response team should do many things quickly and simultaneously, such as:

  • Contacting parties involved with the gaffe to get their account of what happened.
  • Involving your legal team to assess your legal vulnerability depending on the problem,
  • Having a PR expert appointed to be your official voice to communicate your response.

Too often, big brands make bad situation even worse by coming across as non-caring and inattentive – problems that could have been avoided had the company responded rapidly.

Communicate Yesterday

As you respond to the problem, let the public know in a very social way that you’re on the case. Even if you are still gathering the facts and are unprepared to make an official statement, at least let your social followers know you are aware a problem has occurred and that you’re getting to the bottom of the issue. If a problem is patently outrageous – say, an employee is caught on camera acting in an unacceptable way – you’re probably going to need to speak out even before you’ve had a chance to get the employee’s side of the story and to verify the facts (“We are disturbed by what we saw on this video. Rest assured we are getting to the bottom of what happened and will follow up immediately. Stay tuned.”

Contain the Issue

If you represent a large brand with a very public executive team, you should assume that they’ll be asked to comment on an unfolding social media gaffe. Coach them to avoid commenting other than to acknowledge that your company is taking action and cares deeply about its customers and its reputation. Seeing your name dragged through the mud can be excruciating, and it’s tempting to take the gaffe personally as you see customers on Twitter, Facebook, or other socials attacking your company name. Coach your executives to exercise calm and discretion, especially if they have high-profile, popular social accounts.

Take Accountability

Kevin Durant took accountability for his mistakes at a TechCrunch Disrupt Conference, where he was coincidentally scheduled to appear in the wake of his social media firestorm. At the event he owned up to his boorish behavior and apologized. He did not utter one of those half-hearted “If I offended someone” or “Sorry if you were offended” remarks. He acknowledged his actions were wrong, period.

Also, it’s interesting to note that the Golden State Warriors themselves did not comment. Good move. Durant’s mistakes, while embarrassing, resulted from poor management of his personal social accounts. Yes, the Warriors name did get associated with the problem, and yes, he does represent the team. But in this case, the team commenting might have escalated a fairly petty issue that will become yesterday’s news quickly.

On the other hand, an employee doing something truly egregious, such as violating the law or the company’s code of conduct, will more than likely demand the employer to get involved.

Plan for the Future

Assess how you responded to the problem, note what you did well and not so well, and make sure you have a game plan for future gaffes – because they will happen. Make sure you have a well-documented escalation plan and that it covers the fast-changing social landscape. (Does your plan cover Snapchat and other rapidly evolving platforms?)

How do you address social media gaffes? What do you avoid doing? Meanwhile, contact KeywordFirst to discuss how to buid your social media reputation. We’re here to help.

Responding to Customer Reviews: Four Tips for Apple

Responding to Customer Reviews: Four Tips for Apple

Social media

Apple recently permitted its developers to respond directly to customer reviews on the App Store. This update is welcomed by App Store users as previously some negative reviews went unanswered by developers at Apple. Moreover, Apple is catching up to Google, which has permitted developers to respond to user reviews since 2013. This significant news from one of the world’s most valuable brands underscores the importance of businesses responding to user reviews. Based on our experience working with businesses to improve their brands on social, I offer these four tips for Apple and its developers:

  1. Respond to all feedback

Although this suggestion may seem obvious, in some circumstances feedback gets missed whether it be positive or negative. It is important to thank consumers who have provided positive feedback and also offer support or solutions to those customers who are unhappy. Do respond to positive feedback — failing to respond to happy customers might come across as ungrateful. And, of course, reply to negative feedback. Ignoring criticisms obviously look arrogant and insensitive.

  1. Reply in a timely manner

Your response rate time is crucial especially on social media. Facebook even designates certain pages as very responsive, which gives consumers the understanding that they are being heard. Creating a responsive dialogue with your consumer base allows insights for both parties that can elevate your brand. Even if you don’t have a complete answer to a problem right away, at least respond with a “We are looking into this issue and will follow up with you more completely.”

  1. Provide honest feedback

Many times, consumers provide suggestions or requests that are not feasible in your current structure. It is best to explain your position in an honest manner rather than promising too much or leaving a request unanswered. Through honest feedback you are able to build credibility.

  1. Keep your responses concise

Sometimes it’s difficult for employees to respond concisely because employees usually possess a lot of context and detail about an issue that might seem helpful to know. But providing too much detail can be harmful because you might alienate a customer who lacks your technical expertise. If a comment truly does require a complex explanation, first respond briefly and offer to communicate with the customer offline. If you do so, your social spaces will be perceived as very user friendly.

User reviews are significant to a brand’s perception — so ensuring that they are handled in a thoughtful manner is vital. Thus, Apple’s introduction of customer review responses is an important feature to the company and should encourage other brands to be more responsive. The above tips should help any business manage review etiquette. Contact us to discuss how we can help you.

Image source: Ryan McGuire