Monthly Archives: October 2013

Crisis Management Gone Wrong


Earlier in the semester, we wrote about how to correctly use social media and the rules and guidelines to do so. Many of us found examples of how a brand can excel when they correctly use social media guidelines and create favorable conversations with their customers. Of course, just because there are so many obvious success stories, doesn’t mean there aren’t stories about companies who have mismanaged their pages.

 Earlier this year, Applebee’s was a perfect example of what happens when the social media rules and guidelines aren’t followed. “The more clarification organisations can provide and communicate around the dos and don’ts of social media, the more chance there is of employees helping to build the brand online rather than bringing the company into disrepute” (Griffiths, 41).

At the beginning of February this year, an Applebee’s waitress posted a photo of a check from a local pastor refused to leave her a tip, writing: I give God 10% why do you get 18,” on the check with the 18% crossed out. The waitress was immediately fired for this, Applebee’s cited posting personal information of a customer online as the reason for termination.

In the early days of social media, emergent networks changed how people connect to one another and the information that’s important to them. With each update, shared experience, and event, the world shrank. People were and are becoming increasingly connected and as a result they are more informed.” (Solis, 2013). Since this is the internet, people heard about it and were in uproar. To vent their frustration, customers flocked to Facebook and Twitter to see if anything could be done. Applebee’s was getting hundreds of people giving them a hard time for terminating the waitress when their pictures contain some personal information of customers with no backlash whatsoever.

 Applebee’s chose to handle this situation over social media sites by posting status updates and comments trying to ease their customers angry comments. The status updates didn’t help their case, but Applebee’s didn’t back down, they started copying and pasting the status in the comments several times and tagging the people who were complaining, thinking that it would make them read it and understand better that this was all just a big misunderstanding, but the numerous copy and pasted responses just angered customers more.

The PR team who worked on Applebee’s social media continued to handle this situation poorly by allegedly deleting people’s posts, arguing with the customers in the comments, and by writing a Facebook post over 1,000 words long to explain the situation in full. They may have thought they were doing right by explaining the whole story to their customers, but the length turned many of them off.

The situation did, eventually, blow over, but those posts and responses will always be on their page for everybody to see. Applebee’s PR team did not handle this to the best of their ability and it really showed. How do you think they could have handled this better? Do you think if their posts were more contrite they could have had a few better responses?


Works Cited

Griffiths, G. (2012). Share This: The Social Media Handbook For PR Professionals. United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd


Rise of the Social Media Release


When we first started out in the Public Relations major, one of the first things we learn about are press releases; what goes into them, why they are important, and how they have been used in the past and present. And why wouldn’t we? Press Releases share information with journalists so they have a story to get out to the general public. It is a great way of getting the word out about your company and brand, without having to pay anything.

So what could go wrong?

In 2006, a blogger for Silicon Valley Watcher by the name of Tom Foremski called for the demise of the press release. Press releases are created by committees, edited by lawyers, and then sent out at great expense through Businesswire or PRnewswire to reach the digital and physical trash bins of tens of thousands of journalists. This madness has to end.” (Foremski, 2006). His comments may have shocked the PR community, but he may have had some method to his madness. Later in his article he described what could be done instead of a press release and how we, as PR practitioners, could change with the other media markets and the technology that goes with it. He makes a list of tidbits of helpful information about the company that could be sent to journalists, instead of a padded up with fluff press release.

Enter the social media release. Shift Communications took advantage of the hype and talk about the blog post Foremski wrote and published the first social media release template to the public. The template of the social media release has changed over the years with new social media and technology changing how PR practitioners use things, but the key aspect of them is brevity. Everything is bulleted in order for journalists to easily pick and choose the information they want to put in their articles or for people to skim while going through RSS feeds. “[N]early every online news site and blog includes an RSS feed to enable readers to subscribe to the content without needing to constantly visit the site. At the very least a social media newsroom must contain an RSS feed for all its content,” (Bruce, p.107)

There is more to it than just brevity, it is the beginning of a change towards the social aspect of public relations. SMRs are much more than bulleted text and links to multimedia content in social networks. It’s much more than simply sharing information. And, it’s definitely much more than providing building blocks in a “B.S.” free format. SMRs are a starting point for the socialization of news.” (Solis, 2007).

Do you agree with Foremski that the press release is no longer relevant or do you think there will always be a place for them in PR? Do you think Social Media Releases will replace press releases over time?  

Works Cited

Bruce, S. (2012). Share This: The Social Media Handbook For PR Professionals. United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Google+ – Why it’s so Great for Practitioners and Businesses


Google+ came onto the scene in September of 2011 in order to organize your friends list. “How many of your Facebook ‘friends’ are actually your real-life friends at this present moment in time? Google+ was promising functionality to be able to segment your online contacts into groups according to the nature of your relationship” (Tyte, 88). The idea behind it was simple, a way to break up your friends list into smaller groups of people so that different people could get different information. Not only are circles a great way to keep family members from seeing embarrassing photos, but it was also a helpful tool for people in PR.

Google has made it easier for PR people to get into contact with journalists because journalists’ profiles are linked to their articles, meaning that a PR person can easily add them to a circle and connect with them. It is the easiest form of Networking available at only the touch of a button; and with Google hangouts, it is even easier to contact them about stories or have face-to-face meetings.

Brands haven’t been very big on Google+ just yet, but PR practitioners as well as businesses can see the value of having a Google+ business page. “For traditional searches, Google+ pages will show up in the SERPs like any other page and will not be weighted any more different than any other page, to comply with anti-trust regulations. However, when a user searches with a “+” in front of a business’ name, they will go directly to that business’ Google+ page, and will not see any other search results” (Solis, 2011). This has become more helpful in making Google+ brand pages more accessible to the general public and more cost efficient as well because Google+ pages will be better advertised by Google search engines than the Facebook pages.

So, while it hasn’t quite caught on to Twitter or Facebook’s success in the social media scene, Google+ has the potential to greatly help PR practitioners as well as businesses.




Tyte, Dan. (2012). Share This: The Social Media Handbook For PR Professionals. United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Professional Connections in the Digital Age


Linked in is a social media site used by professionals to display their skill set and sell their professional self to future employers as well as to connect with other people in similar fields. Unlike sites like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn aims to be more professional natured and “gives us this opportunity to belong to multiple networks based on school, university, employer, shared skills, professional bodies, shared interests, local business networks and so on. It’s the ideal platform for identifying and connecting with people across multiple niche groups” (Appleby, 81). So, instead of talking and connecting to friends and following celebrities, users could show off what kind of skills they could make use of in the work force.


United States companies often check on possible employee’s social media sites to get an idea of what this person is like. LinkedIn is a good social media site to have in order to show off your accomplishments, interests, and skill sets that may not be readily available on sites like Twitter and Facebook. Like other sites, LinkedIn makes it easy for the user to find people they may know as well as people who share similar interests and others in the same field.

I have only had a LinkedIn account for about a month, but I have found that it is a great networking site when it comes to developing professional relationships because the users of the site are primarily professionals and businesses. It isn’t a website for people looking to talk to their friends or to promote their ideas to the world, but for those who are looking for a career. A lot of college grads create profiles on this site for this very reason; it is a great way to showcase yourself for a future employer in a digital form.

Do you think LinkedIn is a good way to connect with employers and other professionals?   


Works Cited

Appleby, M. (2012). Share This: The Social Media Handbook For PR Professionals. United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Disney Side and Online Campaigns


This morning (September 30th), Disney Parks launched their latest campaign Disney Side across all social media platforms. They describe “Disney Side” as “the side of you that says yes more and embraces all things fun.” (DisneyParks) To get in on the fun, you can use the tag #disneyside on any social media site along with pictures of Disney experiences and use the tag to plan a Disney vacation with friends. To me, this was exciting because I will admit, I am a huge fan of Disney so to catch their newest Disney Parks campaign the day it started is kind of exciting to me. 

“As an engagement tool, Twitter is largely self-referential and conversational. It will either aim to help a brand serve its public better, or it will try to engender greater loyalty by creating a closer tie between the brand and the consumer of that brand.” (Lacey, p 78). In the case of Disney Parks, they began using Twitter, as well as other social media sites, to reach out to their customers and to people interested in bringing their family and friends to Disney World. “Social media however is only part of a larger digital movement that’s impacting business from the inside out and the bottom up. This is perhaps the most important part of this study and here it is buried. Regardless of your opinion regarding the word “digital,” the bigger trend is digital’s disruption on business and overall consumerism. When asked what keeps marketers up at night, the list was great.” (Solis). This campaign makes use of photos that people post to social media sites and uses some of them on their Disney Side homepage. Disney Side will have a few commercials, but it will largely be over social media sites and their web page.

This is just another example of how campaigns have started to become more and more digital because that is where so much of the audience has turned. More and more campaigns have started to be done online because digital platforms have the opportunity to be more conversational. Do you think that because of this, campaigns have been more successful through social media?