If you worked in the Crock-Pot communications department last week, you probably would’ve started your day as you do any other day.
Maybe you scheduled some social posts.
Or reviewed incoming emails.
And you probably checked your monitoring tool or reports.
If you were in this position, you likely would’ve noticed an uptick in mentions over the last 12 hours.
Did it have to do with people sharing recipes for the upcoming Super Bowl? Or were those living in cold regions praising it for making warm meals on cold nights?
None of the above.
The most recent episode of NBC’s This is Us aired and *SPOILERS* it was revealed that a faulty slow cooker was responsible for the fire that is presumed to have killed the family patriarch, Jack Pearson.
Although the slow cooker in the scene was unmarked and not technically affiliated with the Crock-Pot brand, the tweets poured in about this revelation, many with jokes from viewers about getting rid of their Crock-Pots.
We’ve seen more of this kind of crisis, which involves no overt wrong-doing on behalf of the brand, happening recently. What should a brand do when their name is cited in a less than favorable light, through no fault of their own? Is no response better than drawing more attention to it?
Crock-Pot wants you to know it cares
Users even created fake Twitter accounts from the perspective of the Pearson family Crock-Pot.
Following these posts, the Crock-Pot brand posted in defense of the product on their Facebook and released a statement to the Washington Post, simultaneously praising the show and defending their product. In particular, they highlight the product’s safety standards and performance testing.
On the Thursday following the episode, Crock-Pot created a new Twitter account with the handle @CrockPotCares. The account seeks out and responds with reassurances about the safety of their product to tweets mentioning getting rid of Crock-Pots because of the episode.
Dan Fogelman, the creator of This is Us, also came to Crock-Pot’s defense in a tweet following fan’s reactions to the episode.
What does this mean for other brands?
This type of crisis, involving no outward wrongdoing on behalf of the company itself, is becoming more common.
Although the company does not do or say anything to offend their audience and/or stakeholders, they find themselves on the receiving end of negative press that could result in diminished reputation and decreased revenue.
The brand is often required to make a statement to condemn the activity, in part to ensure they will not suffer consequences because of this negative coverage.
Not all cases are created equal, however.
Consider, for example, the recent woes of Tide. A social media phenomenon has gained popularity with teenagers, involving self-recorded videos of them eating Tide’s laundry pods.
This movement quickly went viral, and now some consumers are calling for Tide to discontinue and ban their laundry pods.
Procter & Gamble, Tide’s parent company, made a statement about safe use of the pods and continue to respond with safety protocols and poison control’s contact information to tweets from users claiming to have consumed the pods.
Tide never did anything wrong, but consumers manipulated their product in a negative, dangerous manner, causing complications and negative coverage for the Tide brand.
Although Crock-Pot experienced increased mentions following the episode of This is Us, the problem occurred in a fictional show and no actual people were harmed by their product. Conversely, Tide’s product went viral for its use in a dangerous social media stunt that could cause injury or death.
Communicators whose brands experience these situations must evaluate before responding. Drawing more attention to the situation or striking the wrong tone could be worse than saying nothing at all.
In Tide’s case, for example, their communicators needed to condemn the activity, explain that this was not the intended purpose for the product, and provide helpful outlets for consumers who may have ingested the laundry pods.
In other cases, it could be best for communicators to monitor the situation and remain quiet until the coverage subsides.
During these situations, when mentions of the brand are higher than normal, communicators should spend extra time with their monitoring tool. Set up more frequent alerts and reports and consider refining or creating new keywords to capture mentions pertaining to the concerning situation. Conduct sentiment analysis on these messages to determine the tone. If they are overwhelmingly neutral, especially if they have a comical tone as many of the messages about Crock-Pots following the episode of This is Us, continue with your regularly scheduled content.
Although these low-key crisis situations aren’t your traditional crises, communicators should consider their potential impact. The speed of digital news and social media allows messages and videos to circulate quickly, allowing problems to gather steam, which could have negative implications for your brand. Perhaps add a provision to your crisis management plans for lower priority crises and responses to them.
Continuing to closely monitor your brand and finding the right response, if any at all, will ensure your brand doesn’t suffer any consequences because of these crises.