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Should a Brand Remain Silent on Social Media During a Crisis?

Uber is currently under fire for remaining silent on social media after one of their drivers murdered six people in Western Michigan. The company completely stopped their online advertising and only issued a tweet sending their “condolences regarding the incident” (Bradley).  So is this right? Should the company remain silent, or continue advertising? PRweek interviewed seven crisis communication experts to figure out whether or not Uber is in the wrong for the way they publicly handled this issue, or if staying low for the moment is the right thing to do.

The interesting part to this story is the many different solutions these experts have come up with for Uber during their time of crisis. Gene Grabowski, partner of kglobal, believes that if Uber was actively posting on social media before, they should not change that routine due to a tragedy:

“If a company such as Uber is active on social media, it should remain true to its personality and continue its activity on social media platforms throughout a crisis. But its messages need to change to reflect the nature of the crisis. In the case of Uber, it should be talking on social media about its security procedures and its processes for screening drivers. It should be discussing the ways it is improving passenger safety and demonstrating compassion for the victims of the recent shooting rampage. Going mute online isn’t an option for companies like Uber, Whole Foods, FitBit, Southwest Airlines, and so many others that have built their brand on the transparent conversations that take place on social media” (Grabowski qtd. in Bradley).

On a different note, expert Frank Mantero, SVP of account services at Max Borges Agency, touches on the fact that this situation is more of a “balancing act,” and “quiet time” can really aid in a crisis such as this:

“There needs to be a transition period between social media channels adjusting from content in addressing the crisis to going back to “business as usual.” It depends on the crisis and not self-inflicting further attention on a potential non-issue. Sometimes a simple statement with some quiet time afterwards to resume “commercial broadcast” is appropriate. There are no hard or fast rules. It’s about the reading the situation and reading the stakeholders. It’s quite the balancing act that requires ongoing active listening and a level of humility” (Mantero qtd. in Bradley).

Between these two experts, i believe that i agree personally with Gene Grabowski the most. A company should not completely shut down a routine due to a major crisis that occurred with an employee. Instead, in my eyes, this situation would be solved with Uber tweeting, posting on Instagram as well as their website, the safety tips when getting into an Uber or cab service in general, what type of things they look and what they do when hiring employees, as well as touching on the fact that things happen all the time, and sadly this is something that they hope to never happen again. Uber has built a presence on social media and that is how people view their brand and overall company, completely coming to a stop when using social media will only hurt Uber in the future. Like Grabowski mentions, Uber is in the same league as companies such as Whole Foods and Southwest where they have built their brand image on conversations which take place on social media.

Website URL: http://www.prweek.com/article/1384777/long-brands-stay-silent-social-media-deadly-crisis

Image URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/thumb/msid-47561463,width-400,resizemode-4/47561463.jpg

 

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This entry was posted on February 24, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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