Are You a Sizzling Taco or Going Down in Flames?

This is a guest post by Luke Brynley-Jones, social media consultant and blogger. Luke is hosting Social PR 2011 (London) on 28th Feb and has kindly agreed to let readers of our blog get a 10% discount to the conference using the code “red10”.

Last month Taco Bell had a social PR disaster. Rumours spread online that their meat wasn’t, in fact, 100% meat, but x% something else as well. But they came out fighting. They mobilised their (then) 45k Twitter followers and thousands of Facebook fans, and posted a combative rebuttal from their President on YouTube. The result was strangely positive. They now have 80k Twitter fans, and those who love their meat-and-other-stuff tacos have been galvanised to support their favourite food-hall across the social web. How’s that for snatching success from the slavering jaws of social media ignominy?

It’s heart warming to see a large food brand learning the lessons of the Dominos Pizza debacle. It also raises some fundamental issues about social PR. How should you prepare for a crisis like this?  Should you have an emergency video kit ready for when the fan get’s hit? Should you have a team of spooks monitoring every social media conversation, in case your brand is maligned? Is it worth doing test runs of PR disasters, to see how your team react? Do you need to engage online to recruit a following of social media advocates, so they’re there to help when you need them?

The answer, of course, is yes. You should be doing all these things.  But simply knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to do it.

In the past weeks I’ve been preparing for Social PR 2011 by talking reputation management with some of the leading lights in social PR: Katy Howell (Immediate Future), Philip Sheldrake (Meanwhile), Katie Delahaye Paine (KDPaine & Partners) and Marshall Sponder (WCG), among others.  In a programme replete with case studies and discussions, these four have agreed to deliver a series of “How-to” sessions that I think will shed some light on the darker corners of PR. They’ll be talking on: What Social PR Means for Brands; How to Develop your Engagement Metric; How to Identify Influencers Using Social Media; and How to Plan & Execute Real-time PR that Delivers for your Organisation.

KD Paine gives us a sneak preview into a few things she’ll be looking at on the day.

I’m hoping that attendees will leave Social PR 2011 with a clear action plan for monitoring and managing the reputation their brand, or the brands they work with, plus a smattering of the latest brainwaves, gizmos, tactics and word-ups from some of the trail-blazers of social media PR. If we can help brands be a Taco Bell rather than a Domino’s Pizza, it will be a job well done. Join us.




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