Social media can harm your brand; incorporate it into your business- Expert to business owners
Public Relations expert and lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), Mr. Noel Nutsugah, has advised brands to incorporate social media into their overall business strategies.
According to the lecturer, the introduction of social media is changing brand-consumer interactions and, as a result, has increased the rate at which brands can easily fall into crisis situations.
He was responding to a viral video in which some drivers complained about the Shell branch in Atimpoku recording a case of water mixing with their petrol.
He explained that the situation that made its way onto social media allows consumer agitations like this one to go viral, which can be harmful to the brand’s reputation if not handled properly.
As a result, he has advised brands to pay attention to changing trends and incorporate social media into their overall business strategies because it benefits them.
This is also one of the reasons why businesses must have a professionally drafted social media policy in place to protect their digital presence and reputation, he argued.
He said ”I have followed this case since morning. Gathered all the facts I can.
Clearly, the advent of social media is changing brand-consumer interactions and as such, increasing the pace at which brands can easily fall into crisis situations. It gives the room for consumer agitations like this very one to go viral and if not handled well, can be injurious to the reputation of the brand.
You can imagine if this had happened 15 or 20 years ago! You and I would probably not hear or know about this even after so many years. In that case, the filling station could afford to downplay the issue and go unscathed.
Clearly the times have changed and the earlier brands noticed this and incorporate social media into their overall business strategies the better. This is also one of the reasons why organizations must have a professionally drafted social media policy to guard their digital presence and reputation. (Let’s talk if you need one).
The filling station has issued a response and by the request from many of you, I’ll do my professional analysis of it in my next post.”
Meanwhile, he has praised the company for how it has handled the situation but also raised some questions.
Read his full analysis below
The release was timely in my estimation. Content well written. The release is identifiable because of the presence of brand elements like the logo. This is key for the authenticity of the statement.
To some technical points…
- The outfit claims that the heavy downpour caused the water seepage into the fuel tank. The attempt here is to blame the issue on a natural disaster which is absolutely fine. In the issues and crisis register, this attempt is described as an Internal-Unintentional Occurrence (Accidental Occurrence).
Even though this is the appropriate attempt per the facts of the matter, consumers may ask some critical questions –
- Which safety mechanisms are in place to guard against heavy rainfalls, especially remembering the June 3 disaster?
- How come the filling station couldn’t detect this through their own internal mechanisms and it had to take consumers whose car engines were troubling them to tell?
How they responded…
Well, the response in this release, unlike the Vernal Natural Water case is very good.
They have provided the facts and have also claimed that sales at the pump were halted immediately. They have also claimed that the affected customers were contacted and “alternative arrangements were made where possible”. These are all very good and important moves in addressing and mitigating the issue. My question however is, how did they contact these people? Through what means? If I buy fuel from you and I leave, how would u know my contact and call me? Again, which alternative arrangements are they talking about? I thought that some more clarity there would have helped and created a little more transparency and trust, which are key ingredients in any Public Relations endeavor.
Another highlight is that they provided the email and contact number of their Communication Manager and asked that all queries are referred to them. This is an important sign of their willingness to be open and dialogue with key stakeholders like the media. They cited their Communication and Media Policy which is very important in the scheme of affairs.
Clearly, this is a huge improvement on how Verna handled their situation and usually, these are some of the differences you find between multinational companies and our local ones who usually disregard key corporate governance principles and most often refuse to hire professionals to do the job.
- The filling station can choose to service the cars for affected customers for free
- They should also be telling customers how they have solved the situation and what mechanisms are in place to prevent that from happening in the future.
- They should also be on the lookout for similar situations in other pumps. This is technically called Environmental Scanning in PR
- Other OMCs should be learning from this situation and put in measures to forestall it.