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.

Have a Laugh: Use Humor on Social Media

Dr. Seuss once said “From there to here, and here to there, funny things are everywhere.” This couldn’t be more true for social media. When brands get in on the humor, social media is even more fun. Here are 3 reasons why your brand should consider using humor on social media:

Attention Grabber: We all mindlessly scroll through our social feeds during the day, sometimes it’s the same information, over and over again. When a funny video, picture or post pops up on the screen, you can bet we’re going to stop, read it and like it.

Old Spice TweetRelatable: Humor shows that brands have a human side. They don’t always take themselves too seriously, and can laugh. Relating to your audience is a guaranteed way to increase engagement.

Taco Bell Tweet

Memorable: When your audience sees a funny post, they’re more likely to share it and remember it when it comes to making a purchasing decision. Take advantage of this by creating memorable content. Take this Virgin America post from Thanksgiving 2014, for example:

Virgin America Tweet

The Wrong PR Move: Beyonce’s “Beyhive” Upset at her GMA Announcement

Recently, Beyoncé appeared on a very-much hyped segment of Good Morning America. Promos of the appearance emphasized her message’s importance to fans and that they were going to “love it”. Many fans thought Beyoncé was going to announce tour dates, a new pregnancy, or something show-stopping.


Instead, fans were disappointed to hear that her announcement was about her vegan diet she adopted four months ago and about her new 22 Days Nutritional Plan.


Some fans were outraged and took to social media outlets like Twitter to vent their opinions on her announcement.

Bad Twitter responses to Beyonce GMA announcement .


Some blame Beyoncé for all the buildup for such an anticlimactic message, while others blame GMA for their promos due to the fact that they knew what she would be announcing but decided to over-sell her message. Could all the fault be put on GMA? Or could the Beyoncé camp be part to blame? Without a  doubt, her message brought plenty of awareness to the vegan lifestyle as a whole, making her vegan fans happy, but it also brought media attention to her new plant-based 22 Days Nutrition Plan she, her husband Jay-Z and her trainer Marco Borges teamed up to create.


Beyonce and Jay-Z 22 day nutrition program plant-based diet

Beyonce and Jay-Z take part in 22 day nutrition program. Image via www.22daysnutrition.com.


The announcement was more than likely supposed to spear-head a movement amongst her massive number of fans to embrace her nutritional plan, but instead it seems to have backfired. While some fans may indeed choose to follow in her footsteps, many other fans are outraged and feel as though Beyoncé has somewhat tricked them.

Could this hurt Beyoncé musical career? Could this become a great tool to organize a nation-wide vegan movement? Or could this end up being a small footnote in music history and soon to be forgotten? We’ll have to wait it out and see how things unfold in the coming weeks and months.

Tracking the Invisible – Analytics for Social Media Images

Social media has become increasingly more image-based. This fact can be attributed to why platforms like Instagram and Vine are increasingly on the rise. Here are some quick stats:

  • According to 2014 research published on eMarketer, photos accounted for 75% of content posted by Facebook pages worldwide.
  • Photos and images are also the most engaging type of content on Facebook, with 87% interaction from fans.
  • For Twitter, adding a photo URL to your tweet can boost retweets by 35%.

Knowing this is great for content marketers. However, for those attempting to track mentions from followers and engage their brand in the conversation, this is a challenge.Analytics

How do you find a great post to “regram” on Instagram if no one tags or adds a #YourBrandHere to their post? How do you respond to customers on Twitter who don’t include your handle? How do you respond to Facebook users who don’t post directly to your page? How do you track the analytics to show your boss that social media is worth the time?

Nearly 85% of posts that contain a logo contain either no text or no text that is relevant to your brand, according to Brian Kim, director of product management for ad-tech startup GumGum.

If the visual elements going on social media largely elude the tracking and analytics brands use to keep tabs on what people are saying, how can we give an accurate picture to our clients about what’s being said about them?

Our recommendations:


Enter the new social media analytics platform, Mantii. This platform is an offshoot of GumGum. Mantii looks for all or part of brand logos contained in social media posts, whether they mention the brand in text or not.

reverse google image search

Another method is to track your own images being shared through a reverse Google Image search. Google’s search by image can easily give you the information you need about your own pictures being shared by others.

curalate logo

A final method is to use the platform Curalate. Curalate applies image-recognition algorithms to social media platforms, much like Mantii. However, this platform is officially recognized by Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram.

Have you used, or plan to use any of these platforms? Or are you using a different platform to track your images? Let us know in the comments.

When social media goes horribly wrong

Although this story comes from a source called Gossip Cop, the facts are unfortunately and horrifyingly true. Yesterday, some folks with too much time on their hands and deranged humor started a fake Twitter campaign by posing as Justin Bieber fans and then trending #cut4bieber. The premise of the prank involved circulating photos of self-mutilation with supposed fans urging the Biebs to stop his drug use after a photo leaked last week of the celebrity smoking marijuana.

Overnight, the hashtag started trending worldwide, and tweets flooded in showcasing gruesome and graphic images of bloodied arms and wrists, though it can be hard to tell what is real and what is not.

Although this started as a hoax, the campaign has now taken a life of its own. Encouraging the young and impressionable Belieber followers to self-harm is a disturbing trend that we hope will vanquish as fast as it appeared. Luckily some have spoken out against the Twitter campaign, including the high-profile Miley Cyrus, who stated that “Cutting is NOT something to joke about.”

We wonder if Justin Bieber himself will make a public statement about this horrible chain of events in the Twittersphere.

Facebook frenzy in the Zimmerman case

Social media sites have transpired past our everyday lives and into the courtrooms. Just look at the Trayvon Martin case and current trial against his killer George Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s team of lawyers has now entered the social media fray by creating a blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts to interact with the public, sparking interest and conversation. Recently, the George Zimmerman Legal Case shared a link on their Facebook to a blog article about Zimmerman’s abandoned Myspace page. In just four hours, the post had one share, seven “likes” and 93 comments.

With that said, the Zimmerman defense team may have bitten off more than it can chew. Media exposure has made George Zimmerman a household name and the face of evil. Their tactic of trying to shape public opinion of the most vilified man in the nation is an admirable effort, but the consequences have revealed that these social media labors can be detrimental to their cause. With dozens (sometimes hundreds) of comments popping up every time something is posted, we can see that the perception of Zimmerman continues to spread and swell. The handler of the Facebook account is threatening that any discussion or speculation on the facts of the case will be deleted, but that is not enough to control the catalyst of negative opinions brought on by every post.

Only time will tell how George Zimmerman’s legal defense team will handle such heightened criticism of their high-profile client and whether their online efforts will pay off. Either way, this case has certainly proven to be an interesting experience showcasing the evolution of social media.

What you can learn from Khloe Kardashian’s Twitter trauma

Khloe-Kardashian-Kim-Kardashian-Critics-Choice-Awards-01171113-580x803Khloe Kardashian has stopped tweeting. Oh, the humanity!

It turns out she’s tired of being bashed in the Twitter-sphere. “The negativity that I see, hear, or read today is out of control.”

Clearly Khloe and her merry band of reality TV clones (khlones?) attract at lot of negative attention because they seem to find every paparazzi and TV camera in the free world. But the Kardashians are also a very popular brand – and one that is being forced to deal with Twitter fans turning on them, rather than tuning them in. With more than 2 million fans, there are a lot of eyeballs at stake.

The same can hold true for any business using social media. One negative Tweet can spread far and fast. What do you do when the masses turn on you?

First, learn as much as you can about the negative Tweeter. Look at their feed. Someone who regularly complains about anything and everything isn’t going to carry as much weight as someone who doesn’t make a habit of going negative via Twitter. In the worst case, it could be a journalist, blogger or very loyal customer.

Next, contact them directly, hear them out and see if their problem has an easy fix. A hotel might give them a free room in the future, a restaurant may offer up a free meal. Making it right can often make the problem go away quickly.

Do not – under any circumstances – decide to engage in a Twitter war. This is neither a battle you want to engage in nor a war you have any hope of winning. Your social media war of words will just attract an even bigger audience as people retweet.

Done correctly, your Twitter nightmare may land you a loyal customer and let others know that you genuinely care about your customers.

And you can rest easy – Khloe has started tweeting once again.

Time Travel – or just a Clever Social Media PR Stunt?

Charlie Chaplin may be the loveable, Derby hat-wearing silent film star, who steals your heart without uttering a word in films like “Modern Times,” but the early 20th Century (and decades deceased) star was the viral buzz this week. In fact, “Charlie Chaplin” was trending on Twitter.

What makes Chaplin so tech-savvy and cool these past few days? Two words: Time travel.

I kid you not, that’s what reports are touting. Apparently a woman using what some have called a cell phone can be seen in one of Chaplin’s 1928 flicks, leading some to cry wormholes and warp speed. Take a look for yourself:

While time travel is…um….one explanation, several other theories have also popped up (after all – a carrier that gets reception back in the 1920s minus the use of satellites isn’t necessarily the most plausible scenario).

One theory: Public Relations, social media and one clever viral campaign.

Many news stories have linked the time travel buzz to this week’s 25th anniversary of “Back to the Future” and its release to DVD and Blu-ray. This account involves a lot less physics – and a dash of Hollywood promotion – that has everyone (from TIME to The Washington Post to MTV) talking.

To learn more about social media and viral campaigns follow the Orlando Public Relations Firm Wellons Communications on Facebook and Twitter.

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.