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Gini Dietrich

KitchenAid Handles Offensive Tweet Crisis Extraordinarily Well

By: Gini Dietrich | October 4, 2012 | 
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I woke up this morning to a flurry of emails about KitchenAid.

Apparently, whomever runs their Twitter account made the fatal mistake others before have done.

Brands such as Chrysler, Kenneth Cole, and CelebBoutique have all made the mistake of tweeting something offensive from the business account, when it clearly was meant for the person’s personal account.

It should be old news by now. The stray tweet, the deletion of said tweet, the apology, and the wildfire spread of people retweeting and making fun of the brand.

And yet…

Mashable ran a play-by-play of what happened with KitchenAid last night.

The Story

During the Presidential debate last night, the person handling the KitchenAid account tweeted this:

The tweet was deleted almost immediately but not, of course, before it was screen grabbed and retweeted to death.

And then something surprising happened. KitchenAid caught their mistake and handled it. Immediately.

And then, Cynthia Soledad emailed Mashable to say:

During the debate tonight, a member of our Twitter team mistakenly posted an offensive tweet from the KitchenAid handle instead of a personal handle. The tasteless joke in no way represents our values at KitchenAid, and that person won’t be tweeting for us anymore. That said, I lead the KitchenAid brand, and I take responsibility for the whole team. I am deeply sorry to President Obama, his family, and the Twitter community for this careless error. Thanks for hearing me out.

And then she tweeted directly to the President to apologize.

She did everything right. So why is this news?

The Communications Lesson

Americans love to build people (and organizations) up so we can tear them down and build them back up. We love a good underdog story. Heck, human beings love to watch a good train wreck. It’s why traffic gets so messed up when there is an accident on the other side of the freeway.

But the lesson here is in how KitchenAid handled it. They did everything exactly right. They didn’t try to brush it under the carpet. They didn’t ignore it. They handled it. On Twitter and as soon as it happened.

It was probably a long night for Cynthia Soledad and her team. Today will be a long day as they sift through the people on Twitter who are making fun of them.

But from a crisis standpoint? They did everything exactly the right way. This will be old news by tomorrow.

The Personal Lesson

There is a personal lesson in this for every one of us who handles social media for an organization.

If you manage more than one account, have a different app for each one. I get it’s hard to switch back and forth between your accounts on your phone, so figure out a different way of doing it.

It might take a little bit longer to switch back and forth between apps, but it’ll save you some embarrassment – and maybe even your job – in the long run.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

182 comments
Mira458
Mira458

@RedheadWriting @shellykramer @ginidietrich But their products still suck! At least the Coffee MakerKCM1110B. Crap!

TedRubin
TedRubin

@traveljonez Thanks for sharing, appreciate the support. Make it a great day!

qPerf
qPerf

@tedcoine It's amazing how far taking responsibility will go!

katewalling
katewalling

@AWCSeattle @SpinSucks Thanks for the retweet!

dbvickery
dbvickery

@chaimhaas @ginidietrich @mani_shah - Thanks for the share, folks...good to see a company play a no-win situation RIGHT for change

dbvickery
dbvickery

@KervinMarketing I agree...well played, KitchenAid, well played.

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

How refreshing to hear a story of PR done properly.  I'm glad the story got air play - maybe some one will LEARN something.

maryanneconlin
maryanneconlin

Too true!  I find just using the API is the best way  to manage multiple Twitter accounts. It is rare that you have several clients that you need to be tweeting for at one time. More importantly, when on a brand account, you should be immersed in the brand personality. It's not quantity, but quality that drives engagement.

 

charleskcarr
charleskcarr

@shawmu @ginidietrich I find it best to use separate apps on smartphones as an added precautionary step.

JeffAbramo
JeffAbramo

I've NEVER accidentally tweeted from wrong account @va_deb (except the time for a few sec NJSO was tweetin bout Coca Cola @iheartrocknroll

Ijibran
Ijibran

@bryankramer @ginidietrich great story . As i always say don't mix business with pleasure

jmdc88
jmdc88

@LisaByrne @shashib must have separate apps on phone or computer.

jelenawoehr
jelenawoehr

The one thing I would add: Don't tweet something like that, at all, even from a personal account! I am a boundary-pusher as far as making my own political opinions public... I know they may change to some degree over my lifetime, but political activism is too much a part of my life to just hide it in social media without being inauthentic to such a degree I'd be uncomfortable with it. But, as everyone should know by now, there are some jokes you tell at a bar and later vigorously deny ever having even heard, and there are other jokes you tell on Twitter. Making fun of the death of anyone's grandmother is not the latter kind of joke. We all have twisted aspects of our various senses of humor (mine's getting worse the longer I volunteer as a victim advocate... they did warn me about that in training!) but the twisted side doesn't belong on Twitter unless you're in a career field where your online presence really doesn't matter at ALL. Like, I don't know, professional under-rock-living.

Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

I think you nailed it with the separate apps. Can't speak for other apps, but this mistake is way too easy to make with Hootsuite. Little bit of a pain, but the downsides of a mistake can be pretty high.

akeats
akeats

@outsidevoice Thanks for the RT!

SusieMackie1
SusieMackie1

@ginidietrich They sure did. Impressive.

delwilliams
delwilliams

@ginidietrich I was going to tweet you about that last night. Surely this one takes the prize for thoughtlessness.

aimeewoodall
aimeewoodall

@JoelleTweeted @ginidietrich I thought the CEO handled things really well myself. What do you disagree with?

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

It seems to help when you really ARE sincerely sorry, and you really DO take personal responsibility. Good work by Cynthia Soledad. 

chaimhaas
chaimhaas

@dbvickery it was a good summary of what they did right! And yeah, they were caught between a rock and a hard place!

maryanneconlin
maryanneconlin

 @maryanneconlin It's not only about the technical part of managing social media accounts, it's the focus and "getting into the role' of the brand personality that I think is difficult if you are switching back and forth. I've had blogger posts of timely recipes that I've wanted to share on more than one clients' account, that required thinking through how to position it on each brand's Facebook page and when it was most appropriate...easy to mess up if not in "character" :-)

LisaByrne
LisaByrne

@jmdc88 @shashib Both to be safe!

vedo
vedo

@ginidietrich you bet, I really appreciated the personal lesson toward the end for pros to consider

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@SusieMackie1 It's funny how many people think they reacted too quickly

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@delwilliams It certainly could have been avoided

JoelleTweeted
JoelleTweeted

@aimeewoodall @ginidietrich Apologizing and privately reaching out to media outlets would have been enough for last night. (End.) :]

JoelleTweeted
JoelleTweeted

@aimeewoodall @ginidietrich They brought more attention to the situation by reacting too much too fast.

JoelleTweeted
JoelleTweeted

@aimeewoodall @ginidietrich Tweets that weren't personalized. And jumping to announce an employee being terminated on Twitter.

JoelleTweeted
JoelleTweeted

@aimeewoodall @ginidietrich Agree with immediate apology and removal of the tweet, disagree with tweeting to all media outlets immediately.

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

 @ginidietrich I would like to think that you would have read about the Chrysler debacle, and a million others, and make some sort of rule to check WHICH account you're on first.  Actually, why would you EVER send a tweet like this unless you're a dolt. Really.

jmdc88
jmdc88

@LisaByrne @shashib I have different apps on the phone and use different browsers on the computer.

aimeewoodall
aimeewoodall

@JoelleTweeted (2/2) a statement and be included in those articles. It was a smart move. And public termination is pretty standard.

aimeewoodall
aimeewoodall

@JoelleTweeted She made a proactive move to let media outlets know the statement wouldn't be tolerated. Increasing her odds to make (1/2)

JoelleTweeted
JoelleTweeted

@aimeewoodall Right, BUT she reached out publicly. On Twitter. Which to me, seemed panicky.

JoelleTweeted
JoelleTweeted

@aimeewoodall And I just really believe in keepin' calm in the public's eye. But what do I know? You're boss. (And I'm a CM.)

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