A Blog on Marketing & Packaging

Negative blog spurs positive outcome

Posted on: December 8, 2009

You’re out there monitoring the cyber chatter ¬– or your trusted agency partner is doing it for you – when a highly negative blog puts your company in the crosshairs. What now?

We recently guided one of our valued clients through that experience and ended up with results that were positive beyond everyone’s expectations.

David Lorti, a Realtor in Arizona, recently vented his unhappiness about two Bemis Manufacturing toilet seats on his blog, which has 556 followers. Pitcher of lemonadeThe relatively new seats and hinge finishes weren’t holding up, said Lorti, who called out the company for a lack of commitment to quality and craftsmanship.

Through routine monitoring, we discovered David’s negative blog early the next day. We notified our client and consulted with them on how to best respond (Read our post – “Negative Blogs: How to make lemonade from lemons” for tips on responding to a negative blog.) Within hours, two senior product managers at Bemis, Bob and Melissa, contacted David by phone and expressed a desire to get to the bottom of the problem. They made arrangements for the seats to be returned so the company’s engineers could investigate. They also provided him with two new seats of his choice.

I could go on in detail about David’s response, but he does it much better in an updated posting, which went up later that same day. The headline includes the words “total redemption” and the body copy is filled with words such as “respect,” “honest dialogue” and “win-win.”

As their agency, we also let some key trade media bloggers know about the story and positive outcome. The good news ending is now likely to carry forward in other blogs.

We see at least three takeaway lessons about social media:

1) To paraphrase David, this is how social media is supposed to work and this is how a business that really cares about its customers and product reputation is supposed to interact with today’s consumers.

2) Reaction to negative postings should be swift, honest, transparent and never defensive. Your demeanor and words should convey that you simply want to get to the bottom of the situation and that in the interim you want to make the customer whole.

3) Even a few years ago, an unhappy customer such as David might have picked up the phone and called the toll-free customer service hotline. Or he might have just complained loudly to friends and acquaintances. In today’s world, the Internet is where complaints go to be aired, amplified and live on forever. You can’t react if you aren’t actively listening in the first place.

4) Viral can be a positive or negative force. Commenting on the outcome, a Realtor in Utah posted the following: “This is a company that knows exactly what the new age media is all about. Hats off to Bemis for knowing a bad situation can be handled in such a way as to make a loyal customer for life.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Tom Lyons, Public Relations Senior Manager, Directions, Inc.

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6 Responses to "Negative blog spurs positive outcome"

Very good example of positive results if a company is willing to engage into a dialogue with the customer. While many companies are currently involved in monitoring of social media, most of them do not have any established processes and practices on how to engage and follow through.

Hi Tom,

Always good to read about turning negative online chatter into positive results.

Interesting that even after you’d manage to save the day, as their agency, you actually went ahead and informed key trade media bloggers what had happened.

Very brave.

My 2cents worth – Yes, more brands/businesses are slowly waking up to the fact that engaging online in both the good and bad times far outweighs not engaging any day.

However, personally, I think even for clients that do get it and successfully follow through the steps of crisis management via social media (in collaboration with their agency ofcourse), theres always that bated-breath-and-deep-sigh moment at the end which pretty much sounds like “ah, we made it. Now lets bury this and move on”.

Would be interesting to get your perspective on what elements made this work e.g. the agency’s strong relations with and confidence in the online trade media? Client’s faith in agency
approach’s to create awareness post crisis-aversion, A good brand/product that’s invested in value delivery, etc

Cheers,

Hi Kay,

Congratulations! This is a great example of positive results as a result of a company’s social media engagement. I work for Network Solutions and wanted to share with you our case study as presented by Elizabeth Shea of SpeakerBoxPr in case it helps http://www.slideshare.net/eliz2shea/the-social-ceo-new-rules-of-engagement

Thanks,

Shashi Bellamkonda
Social media Swami
Network Solutions

“Get to the bottom of the problem”? Groan.

This is a great success story. The key was the company’s prompt and positive response. But the routine monitoring was also vital — got to keep our ears to the ground all the time!

Excellent post. We need more of these examples out there so more brands can feel comfortable in the fact that things will go wrong (an that is not the point) it is how it is handled. Keep these coming!!

I chanced upon this post. I am the author of the posts regarding Bemis’ toilet seats and my experience with them.

I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed by your guidance and insights here and Bemis’ response. I believe you nailed it and Bemis nailed it as well.

You really also focused on something so important with social media. Addressing customers in social media is not just about business process, it is about tone and authenticity. If Bemis’ tone didn’t seem genuinely concerned and interested in my experience, I would have sensed it and probably would not have written the follow-up (I don’t believe the outcome would have been as positive).

But because I perceived an enthusiastic interest in my experiences as well as a true desire to resolve the issue as a win-win, I felt compelled to follow-up to show my appreciation.

So, please keep up the excellent work here in illuminating your clients as to what social media really means and how it is changing the tone of business practice.

As a final follow-up, my new seats are in place and look great again. Though Bemis offered to upgrade me beyond what I previously had and I very much appreciated that offer, I was content with getting the same style and model again.

They won me over and I will continue to purchase their products in the future.

David Lorti

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About Directions

About DI Directions is an integrated marketing and packaging communications agency with more than 50 years of experience in connecting our clients’ brands with their customers.

For business-to-business, business-to-consumer and nonprofit companies, our integrated marketing solutions meet precise marketing objectives with high-impact creative and measurable results.

We are unique because we are small enough to be nimble and flexible on daily requests, but large enough to handle large-scale projects within tight timeframes.

We offer access to an in-depth pool of knowledge from more than 50 professionals within six key areas under one roof: packaging production, packaging design, research & strategy, marketing communications, interactive and public relations.

www.directions.com

Strategic Creative that Connects!

About Kay

I have 20+ years advertising, marketing and branding experience for internationally known industry leaders. I am adept at strategic planning and working with multiple brands and consumer segments.

About Tom

I have more than 15 years of marketing and public relations experience which follows 17 years as a newspaper journalist. I know how to tell your story to your target audiences.

About Todd

I have more than 25 years of experience in business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketing, package development, brand refinement and
brand promotions. I find success in creating emotional connections to brands.

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