Crisis Public Relations- Drunken American Red Cross?

As I was following the PR world on Twitter last week, I watched a very interesting event unfold. During the night of February 16th, an employee who tweets for the American Red Cross accidently tweeted a personal thought under the organization’s twitter account. Gloria Huang posted on Twitter, “Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer…when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd.” Immediately Twitter filled with tweets responding to the shockingly inappropriate Red Cross post.
With the expansion of twitter and other social networking sites in the business world, people often juggle personal and professional accounts for multiple social media outlets.  Gloria made an honest mistake, but her tweet was a reflection of the American Red Cross, a well-respected organization that is a player in the international community. Such a comment is a true case of a need for crisis PR.
How would you fix such an enormous blunder that reached an international scale? Many agree the Red Cross handled the situation appropriately.  Instantaneously, the tweet was deleted, but deleting a tweet could not fully reverse the damage that had been done. So the Red Cross took a few other steps to repair its’ reputation. Quickly, a new tweet appeared, “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys.” This response not only acknowledged that a mistake had been made, but also showed that the Red Cross has the confidence to laugh at itself. The Red Cross also addressed the mistweet as a “twitter faux-pas” on its blog.
In the blog the Red Cross said, “While we’re a 130 year old humanitarian organization, we’re also made of up human beings. Thanks for not only getting that but for turning our faux pas into something good.” Because the mistake was attended to with an air of grace, many followers of the Red Cross showed their understanding by pledging donations monetarily and expressed interest in attending blood drives.
Here are some key lessons that can be learned from the Red Cross  mix-up are as follows:

“1.When a crisis occurs, address it quickly.

2.  Respond to the crisis in the same forum where it occurred, as well as putting to work other available social media networks.
3.  Be honest about the mistake.

4.  Apologize for the mistake.

5.  Don’t panic.

6.  Use the moment to humanize your brand.”
You often hear that any press is good press, and in the case of the mistweet, this was proven to be true. Because the mistweet included the mention of the small brewery Dogfish, the brewery stirred interest on an international scale. To show their thanks for the free advertising, many distributers of Dogfish joined the twitter conversation and offered beer-for-blood promotions! The mistweet went from an unprofessional crisis to a gain for both the American Red Cross and Dogfish Brewery! By spinning a story with creativity and humor a major crisis can be transformed into good press. Next time you are faced with a crisis, look upon this mistweet case for guidance!
Written by Sarah Vlach 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: