What companies can learn about crisis PR from the United Airlines leggings incident

On Sunday morning, a United Airlines gate attendant barred two teenage girls from boarding a flight from Denver to Minneapolis because they were wearing leggings. News of the leggings incident went viral, and within hours, United Airlines had a PR crisis on its hands.

The incident started when Shannon Watts, political activist and founder of Moms Demand Action, overheard the exchange and tweeted about the incident to her followers.

 

 

The airline responded to the public backlash with its own tweets to explain the incident.   

 

 

The company also issued a release explaining customers are welcome to wear leggings on its flights. The release explains that United views employee pass riders as representatives of the company and expects them to be appropriately dressed for flights.

 

 

Though United responded quickly to the crisis, customers, activists and even celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen and Patricia Arquette have expressed anger about the incident.

Jonathan Guerin, a United spokesperson, said himself the airline should have done a better job of responding to the situation. According to Reuters, Guerin said, “We’ll definitely take something away from today, but we’ll continue to engage with our customers (on social media).”

So what can other companies take away from this viral situation when facing their own crisis?

First, never underestimate the power of social media. Incidents today don’t stay contained, and with Facebook and Twitter, angry customers have an easy—and potentially viral—outlet.

Second, be sincere. Many considered United’s response to the issue stilted or unsympathetic. As per the Reuters article, Guerin said the company could have been more clear in its initial response to the issue.

Finally, have a plan for your social media outlets. United did a great job of responding to a potential issue quickly and telling its side of the story, but because the initial response was bungled, it backfired. Know what kinds of feedback you need to respond to, what you’ll say, and in what format you will respond.

After all, the best way to handle a crisis is to prepare for it before you’re facing it. If you need help crafting your plan, give us a call. At Wellons Communications, we have experience in social media and in handling crisis situations, and we can help you put your best foot forward. Give us a call today at 407-339-0879.

Social media delivers results

Social Media campaign blogMore than 80 percent of Americans have a social media presence. If you’re not using social media as part of your marketing strategy, you’re missing out.

Social media marketing can be extremely effective, and it doesn’t have to be confusing or expensive.

There are two main ways for you to use social media marketing effectively. First, there’s the organic reach.

Organic social media marketing is content you don’t pay for. If you’re in business, chances are you already do this or have at least thought about it. These posts are generally content-driven and help keep your customers up to date with company news. They can also further your company’s brand.

But because these posts are organic, they can easily get lost in the flood of things available on the internet to the point where your followers might not even see them.

Because of that, if you choose to go the organic route, it’s essential to develop a long-term plan for your posting. It’s also important to keep your audience in mind and create shareable content so you can reach new people.

Paid social media posts, however, can help you meet your goals faster. Through paid ads and boosted posts, you can target specific audiences and have a flexible budget. Money can go a long way on social media, because, according to Moz, the average cost is about $0.25 per 1,000 impressions.

To create a strong social media campaign, it’s important to take a few things into consideration.

  • Target the right audience. Paying for posts that are going to the wrong audience can deplete your budget quickly and deliver few results. Write your posts for the specific audience you want to reach and put some thought into who your ideal target is to create an effective audience.
  • Budget your campaigns. Learn from experience which posts generate more engagement and reach. See which posts have a higher relevancy in Facebook and which ones convert into paying customers. Tracking conversions over social media can be difficult, but, over time, trends may emerge.
  • Choose the right platform. Although 18- to 29-year-olds dominate social media sites, there’s a more even spread of generations on Facebook, according to Pew Research Center. Use the platform to your advantage. For example, if you have a visual product or experience you want to promote, Instagram may be the way to go.

At Wellons Communications, we have experience creating both organic and paid social media campaigns. From the beginning, we’ll customize a plan which can help your company gain new customers and grow the relationship with your current customers. Give us a call today at 407-339-0879 to see how we can help your business grow to its fullest potential.

Let’s be clear: Why clarity is essential in your communications

With a multitude of changes unfolding as 2017 moves forward, we are increasingly seeing what kind of turmoil can transpire if communications are not perfectly clear.Clarity Image

Ask yourself “How clear are the messages I am conveying to my clients, my associates, and my potential clients?”

Are your communications immediately understandable — or is your core message lost in a sea of techno-babble that few can understand?

Are your messages consistent? Are you saying the same thing, in the same way, every time you communicate your message?

Do your communications talk to your audiences…or at them?

Communications go well beyond what you may think

In business, communications start with the usual letters, memos and emails. But it also includes informative brochures, marketing and advertising materials, publicity and public relations information, websites, logos, and anything that represents or defines your product or service.

And that’s just a part of the communications process.

Business communication also includes tone and language and nonverbal behaviors. Timing, and the context that surrounds your message, can influence whether or not your audience will even see your message, let alone understand it. How you convey your message affects clarity.

Combine the complexities of communicating simply with the number of ways messages can launched — from Twitter to texting – and the importance of communicating clearly becomes even more magnified.

The seven C’s: an old idea that remains surprisingly up-to-date

At Wellons Communications, we adhere to the seven C’s, a notion originated by respected University of Wisconsin public relations academics Scott Cutlip and Allen Center in 1952. The seven C’s include:

  • Correct: From spelling and grammar to information, is it totally accurate?
  • Clear: Do you present one thought at a time?
  • Concrete: Do you say precisely what you mean?
  • Concise: Do you get to the point quickly?
  • Complete: Do you provide a means so your audience can reach you?
  • Consideration: Can everyone understand your messages?
  • Courteous: What is the tonality of your message?

Reminder: Communications are the bedrock of marketing

At Wellons Communications, we offer only one service: effective communications aimed at helping you sell products and services.

Yes, we dutifully subscribe to all the other esoteric qualities of public relations like brand reputation management, social and corporate responsibility, and organizational leadership.

But overarching those hard-to-measure intangibles is the need to generate sales. That’s where we aim 99 percent of our efforts.

We are either trying to increase sales or remove any barriers from making sales.

And that’s about as clear a message as we can impart.

If you want to learn more about how we can help you communicate – with an eye on positively impacting your marketing program, call me at 407-339-0879 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com.

 

 

Are you asking yourself “What changes do I need to make for 2017?”

With 2016 rapidly running out of days, it’s that time of year when one starts asking “How well is my business doing?” and “What kinds of changes should I be considering?”nov-18-change

You may want to start by asking yourself these tough questions:

• Am I retaining my customer base?
• Am I attracting new business?
• What customers have I lost? Why?
• Am I meeting my financial goals? Why? Or why not?
What do I need to change for 2017?

Take a close look at that last question—and consider what kinds of changes you might need to make.

If you don’t think you need to change anything, think again. Jack Welch, recognized as one of America’s great businessmen, espoused the notion “You have to change, preferably before you have to.”

You have to change to keep up with the changes.

Nothing in business remains static. New products come. Old products go. New attitudes emerge. Old beliefs drop by the wayside.

Even if you believe everything is going great and you don’t need to change anything, consider this: changes outside of your business will necessitate that you make changes to adjust to an ever-changing business environment.

Need some examples? Ask companies like Kodak, Sears, Blockbuster, Pan-Am, and Borders how they fared when they failed to adjust to changing business environments.

Start change by examining your communications strategy.

Change can begin with something as simple as auditing your communications strategy. Ask, and answer, questions like:

• Is my message still relevant to my target audience?
• Am I using the right tools to reach my target audience?
• How does my target audience perceive my message?
• Am I reaching the correct target audience?
• How has my audience changed?

While you are revising your communications strategy, ask yourself one more important question:

Am I using the correct resources to craft and implement my overall communications approach?

That’s where we can help. We provide an objective and fresh look at how and what you are communicating and how it might need to change.

Our approach: We don’t just look for changes. We look for opportunities.

Our firm lives in a communications-centric world, and we know and understand how to create strategies and execute tactical programs that use the right message to reach the right audience at the right time. We know how to change your communications approach to make a meaningful, positive change in the upcoming year.

Before 2016 runs out, call me at 407-339-0879 or email me at will@wellonscommunications.com. Talk with me about taking a look at your communications approach and how we might be able to help you change for the better.

The Value of Social Media: What’s a Tweet Really Worth?

eventbriteMost businesses—large and small alike—are urged to get in on the social media game in order to connect with customers, build SEO and ultimately increase sales. But what is a Tweet or a Facebook message or even a LinkedIn connection really worth?

A recent study by a San Francisco-based ticket sales startup, Eventbrite, quantified the buzz around its social media.

Twitter: A link shared on Twitter nets the company 43 cents in additional ticket revenue.

E-Mail: Using the “e-mail friends” feature on the site, an event shared through e-mail turns into $2.34 in ticket sales.

LinkedIn: This social site equals 90 cents in sales.

Facebook: But the winner—Facebook. Eventbrite nets an additional $2.52 when a user shares that he/she plans to attend an event on his or her wall.

What’s more, with increasing sales, this startup has secured $20 million in venture funding.

To learn more about how social media and integrated public relations can benefit your business, contact our social media experts at Will Wellons Communications, 407-339-0879. And as always, follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.

Reputation Repair, Social Media and Kanye West

Kanye West, at the MTV Video Music Awards, was nominated for one award, but his performance was his high point. --Mike Blake/Reuters

Kanye West, at the MTV Video Music Awards, was nominated for one award, but his performance was his high point. --Mike Blake/Reuters

For the second year in a row, Kanye West stole the show at last night’s MTV Video Music Awards.

Last year, the performer snatched the microphone from Taylor Swift during her acceptance speech, to tell the world that Beyonce’s video was better. This year West capped the show as only he can — with music and light shows and strong language.

Kanye ended the show with a song that was equal parts apology and frustrated battle cry. When he walked offstage the audience was chanting his name.

Although I’m not sure I’d ever use Kanye West’s methods, he certainly can teach us a few things about reputation destruction and reputation repair.

Consider how well Kanye used modern media in just the past week.

First, he turned to Twitter. He wrote 72 Tweets referring to last year’s incident, and the fallout he has experienced since.

He apologized to Ms. Swift, and called out the media and those who have criticized him. He also expressed contrition, Kanye-style (grammar his):

“I’ve hurt, I’ve bled, I’ve learned. I only want to do good. I am passionate I am human I am real. I wish I could meet every hater I wish I could talk to every hater face to face and change there a opinion of me one conversation at a time.”

This put Kanye West’s name front and center just days before the MTV awards show that he imploded on a year ago.

West has received plenty of good press from his activities on the social media microblog – after all, he follows no one, but has more than 1.1 million followers.

But that was just groundwork.

When Kanye West appeared on the VMAs, he was all about moving forward, singing a song from a new CD and showing clips from a new film he produced, all for a national TV audience.

In both cases, Kanye used the digital media and the legacy broadcast media to get out his message without interruption, control negative reaction, and redefine his reputation.

Taylor Swift, meanwhile, sang a pretty song in the middle of the show about innocence and regret, which was pretty much forgotten by the evening’s end.

Well done, Kanye – somehow your bad-boy message overshadowed the pretty blonde again.