Gini Dietrich

Ocean Marketing Fired and Crisis Managed

By: Gini Dietrich | January 23, 2012 | 
56

As most of you know, N-Control recently was the brunt of a social media consultant gone rogue.

The issue was a N-Control customer sent an email asking why his delivery was delayed and, taking the role of customer service, the company’s social media firm, Ocean Marketing, responded, IN WRITING, in ways most of us would never even think to do.

The issue was told over and over again on Reddit, giving N-Control a PR crisis they never could have expected…all from hiring the wrong firm. And it made the rounds on a lot of the blogs the week between Christmas and New Year’s. It has not been a pleasant few weeks for the video game controller company.

But they recently took control of their own destiny, fired Ocean Marketing, and hired Moises Chiullan to help them discuss delivery issues with customers.

And the first thing Chiullan did is take them to Reddit, to address the irate customers who, to this point, have pretty much been ignored.

Chiullan talked to The CMO Site about his strategy and how he helped to turn around three weeks of an absolute mess.

I did some research and thought, ‘These guys are getting destroyed on Reddit, and a lot of these people don’t appear to know who actually owns the company.’ Going to Reddit became a top priority. It was the best way to interact with a large portion of the audience in a direct, transparent manner.

But it presented a special challenge in that Reddit allows pseudonyms and rarely do you know who the person is behind the computer screen on the other end. As well, users can vote comments up or down, which means, unless they really like what they had to say, N-Control conversations could be voted down and the Ocean Marketing debacle will still be found on top.

Keeping all of this in mind, Chiullan launched an Ask Me Anything comment thread for N-Control and let users take the stage.

While the client didn’t answer the questions, Chiullan fielded hundreds of questions and users voted it up so many time, it landed on the home page of Reddit and garnered attention from Venture Beat and other major tech blogs.

We don’t know how or if this affected sales at N-Control, but it is a great step in an effort to gain goodwill for the company.

The only advice I have is they should have had someone from N-Control, not the PR pro, answering questions. It took him more than two days (with little to no sleep) to get through all of the questions, so I understand why they didn’t.

But this is the new world. People don’t want to hear from the middle man; they want to hear from the company with which they do business.

It’s inevitable. You are going to experience a customer service issue that becomes a PR crisis. Take notes from Domino’s, FedEx, and N-Control in the right things to do.

Answer the criticism where it’s the loudest (YouTube for both Domino’s and FedEx and Reddit for N-Control). Be human. Be open and honest. Answer in real-time. And always, always, always say you’re sorry.

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.

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56 Comments on "Ocean Marketing Fired and Crisis Managed"

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jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem
4 years 3 months ago

“But this is the new world. People don’t want to hear from the middle man; they want to hear from the company with which they do business.”

Amen my friend!! And thanks for following up on this story.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@jennwhinnem There is plenty for PR and marketing professionals to do, including a crisis management plan. But it is no longer our job to serve as the voice of the company.

Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing

@ginidietrich@jennwhinnem Perhaps it’s a scapegoat mentality? Is PR the best scapegoat so it can be blamed when things go awry? Fascinating as to what you said above, too; they put a new guy in front. Astonishing.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@Soulati | PR@jennwhinnem I definitely think this is a step in the right direction. A great next step is to answer these things yourself.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@jennwhinnem Morning!

jennwhinnem
jennwhinnem
4 years 3 months ago

@ginidietrich good morning!

John_Trader1
John_Trader1
4 years 3 months ago

Transparency. Don’t leave home without it.

*sigh* maybe one day all companies will embrace this and wake up to the fact that consumers are just too damn smart and influential to be ignored. It’s notable what a little proactive customer service TLC can do for brand reputation.

Thanks for the post Gini,

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@John_Trader1 I think they’re doing a good job of managing the crisis now. The Reddit fans are very encouraged and are even commenting that it sucks N-Control had to go through this. A really good next step is for them to actually respond themselves.

keithbloemendaal
4 years 3 months ago

I watched this N-Control story unfold as it happened, was very sad. Worse yet is the company never really answered some questions, and still hides behind PR people….. step out and stand up for yourself I say.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago
@keithbloemendaal I think so, too. But this is definitely a step in the right direction. Obviously I’m not there in the meetings, but from what I’ve read, I’m pretty sure they let their PR guy handle everything because he already had a presence on Reddit and because it took him days to get through everything. I don’t know if it’s because I have a controlling personality, but if I had a social media consultant screw me like Ocean Marketing did, there is no way I’d leave my business in the hands of the new pro…no matter how well I thought… Read more »
keithbloemendaal
4 years 3 months ago

@ginidietrich On top of that, why hasn’t anyone noticed that the actual owner of N Control (David Kotkin) has the EXACT same name as the magician David Copperfield (who’s real last name is Kotkin)… strange coincidence?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@keithbloemendaal LOL!! I didn’t know that! What a great piece of trivia.

HowieSPM
4 years 3 months ago
@ginidietrich@keithbloemendaal there is another story here in this story. Whether you outsource your social media or have it in house. The people who run it have the keys to your reputation and possibly even livelihood. I give Twitter training for a client for all their interns and employees. While I run the feed most of the time others participate. The first section is about behavior. Like no cursing. I also discuss the Chrysler episode. My sister acosta discussed on Sat the fear businesses have of not controlling their message. I think there should also be a healthy fear of who… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@HowieSPM@keithbloemendaal I’m with you – I don’t understand why companies outsource the first line of communication with their customers.

HowieSPM
4 years 3 months ago
@ginidietrich@keithbloemendaal@MolliMegasko It is kind of a catch 22. I would prefer teaching clients how to utilize social media for communicating/ customer service, etc as a tool. But I see businesses not wanting to do it themselves. Then I see what others offer. I haven’t had the nerve to ask him (to not be named here) but someone on their site had social media pricing and for $1500/month they would create a FB page and post 2x per week, create a twitter account and tweet 3x per day, create a youtube channel and help them create one home made video per… Read more »
KenMueller
4 years 3 months ago

Thankfully we live in a society that has a very short memory. And if you handle it well, that memory will be even shorter. We can be a very forgiving people. And as you say, always say your sorry. That’s usually the best first step.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@KenMueller It’s amazing what “I’m sorry” does in diffusing an issue.

HowieSPM
4 years 3 months ago

@ginidietrich@KenMueller well I’m still waiting on your apologies. Harumph!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@HowieSPM@KenMueller Apologies from whom?? Ken? Me too.

Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing

Great case study, Gini. Even greater is to be quicker to the draw and manage the crisis sooner before it spins to suckdom.

P.S. You wrote above “on the homage page of Reddit.” Can you please explain that? Is it a special page for posts that get voted up? Just curious as Reddit has not been one of my frequently frequented sites. Thanks.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@Soulati | PR Uh…that was a typo. I meant home page.

Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing

@ginidietrich Oops; sorry, Gin.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@Soulati | PR Oh don’t be sorry. I’m glad you caught it.

HowieSPM
4 years 3 months ago

This is crazy stuff and very impressed with how it was handled.

@ginidietrich you are not supposed to showcase positive PR case studies here 😉

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@HowieSPM Remember we decided to show good case studies every once in a while? Now I have to go over to FB to see your every two week visit!

TheJackB
4 years 3 months ago

a social media consultant gone rogue Call me crazy but it sounds like you are describing @HowieSPM 😉

That alien could be a secret agent gone rogue. A mystery man who leaves the big city to go live in the wild while he prepares to launch his assault on the world.

HowieSPM
4 years 3 months ago

@TheJackB wait are you saying I am not the Martha Stewart of Marketing? Calm. Safe. Innocent. Inside Trader. Makes great table arrangements.

ryancox
ryancox
4 years 3 months ago
I like most everyone else, saw this happen right in front of my eyes and was pretty shocked that the “Marketing/PR firm” let the individual go on that long saying what he said. At least from the gist of what I grabbed, there were other people at that firm. To @ginidietrich ‘s point — its pretty amazing how far saying I’m sorry goes. We live in a consume-now society. In another 2-3 months, we won’t even remember N-Control, it’ll be just another link in the Google cache. However — the mess-ups that happen, and are handled WELL, become badges of… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@ryancox I don’t know. Do you really think we won’t remember the screw ups? I mean, think about Boners BBQ last week. I’m pretty sure I’m going to remember that guy for a really long time.

digett
digett
4 years 3 months ago

@kmueller62 @ginidietrich It’s a good first step, at least. But like you, I don’t want to talk to the PR guy.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@digett I agree. I’d rather talk to the company. But it’s definitely a step in the right direction

digett
digett
4 years 3 months ago

@ginidietrich And it’s definitely better than trying to ignore it.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@digett MUCH better than ignoring it

Andrea Hypno
4 years 3 months ago

I think that outsorcing customer service is always wrong, even if this means you can pay someone 1 dollar per hour and save big money. Usually they are not as interested as the owner is about business image. The same goes if you pay someone thousands of dollars.

Better handle everything that is possible within the business, this clearly means less money but usually pairs with higher quality and commitment. I might be wrong though. :)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@hypnodude I don’t think you’re wrong. At all.

Andrea Hypno
4 years 3 months ago

@ginidietrich Thanks.

kmskala
kmskala
4 years 3 months ago

@Andrea Hypno It’s not outsourcing that’s the issue. It’s the relationship and goals the outsourced team needs to have. We technically “outsource” our customer service, but our vendor has been with us for a significant amount of time and does business like they’re part of our company. The customer doesn’t see any difference and the feedback process is smooth and effective. So I wouldn’t automatically on the “outsource is bad” wagon.

Andrea Hypno
4 years 3 months ago
@kmskala Well, this probaly means that you are not like so many companies that outsource just to increase earnings without any interest in providing a good service for clients. I mean if you have selected well your customer service company and they work like they would for their own business that’s great. But generalizing a lot I don’t like outsorcing as a way of business, also because as an example outsorcing production is the main reason why economy everywhere has collapsed and quality is most of the times a word of the past. I prefer inhouse services as they are… Read more »
Nic_Cartwright
4 years 3 months ago

as a friend (ish) of mine once said – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2e4NlnLr28

not seen this brew-haha – but at the end of the day – life should be simple…. Give people what they want. I rarely (and using the Nic English Dictionary – we see that defn of rarley = never) buy anything that I don’t want – and poor cust serv means no sale – sorry compadre!!

Spin Sucks!!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@Nic_Cartwright I think the Websters Dictionary also has rarely = never.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@ewittke Morning!

ewittke
ewittke
4 years 3 months ago

@ginidietrich Morning to you! How are you and Mr. Bauer doing?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 months ago

@ewittke Well, it’s no longer morning. That should tell you!

RockstarsTribe
RockstarsTribe
4 years 3 months ago

RT @bdorman264 Ocean Marketing Fired and Crisis Managed http://t.co/HqDiU3X7 via @ginidietrich

trackback
[…] We live in a consume-now society. In another 2-3 months, we won’t even remember N-Control, it’ll be just another link in the Google cache. However — the mess-ups that happen, and are handled WELL, become badges of honor that stick in our memory for a lot longer than the bad. It’s a double-edge sword. The sharper of the two blades though, is that they won’t be remember for handling it well. That could of been something that made them a ‘case study’ for how to do it right, and in turn, kept them relevant longer. Read more on Why… Read more »
ReginaSymphony
ReginaSymphony
4 years 3 months ago

@JephMaystruck Very interesting.

jfritsche
jfritsche
4 years 3 months ago

@nuprinz That was SUCH a mess. Almost painful to witness.

nuprinz
nuprinz
4 years 3 months ago

@jfritsche Almost? I was reading the original post through my fingers.did you reading the follow up interviews?

jfritsche
jfritsche
4 years 3 months ago

@nuprinz Yes. I say “almost” because it was also humorous (not for N-Control, but on the Ocean side).

nuprinz
nuprinz
4 years 3 months ago

@jfritsche true. what an example of social media CS gone to the pooper. good recovery tho. I wonder if it helps or hinders my industry.

jfritsche
jfritsche
4 years 3 months ago

@nuprinz It’ll be interesting to see…

mattstratton
mattstratton
4 years 3 months ago

@nuprinz Tried to figure out what you and @jfritsche are talking about, but can’t find the whole thread…

jfritsche
jfritsche
4 years 3 months ago

@mattstratton @nuprinz For your viewing pleasure: http://t.co/2DEsP3YM

trager
trager
4 years 3 months ago

@jfritsche, painful? That was a hilarious train wreck of ego over brains. @nuprinz

jfritsche
jfritsche
4 years 3 months ago

@trager @nuprinz …or lack of brains.

nuprinz
nuprinz
4 years 3 months ago

@jfritsche @trager …and full of inflated ego.

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