One of the few things I love more than seeing great PR in action is munching my way through a huge box of NESTLÉ® Dark Chocolate RAISINETS®. Unfortunately, there is going to be a little less of one of those in my life going forward.
Nestle had a bit of a PR mess to clean up recently with its “Facebook flop” that not only riled the Greenpeace crowd, but environmentalists, humanitarians and professional communicators, as well. Social media enthusiasts went nuttier than a OH HENRY!® Candy bar when Nestle posted a warning on it’s Facebook page asking people not to alter their logo after dozens of posts popped up challenging Nestle’s unpopular business practices, such as destroying the rainforests and talking millions of third world mothers out of breastfeeding their children.
Nestle’s social media team responded with terse reprimands and the debate heated up faster than you can warm a baby bottle! Two of my favorite examples from Salon.com’s article:
- Jennifer Jones at SpeakMedia: … [C]oncerned consumers, backed by GreenPeace are trying to engage the brand online about the issue and some placed altered versions of the Nestle logo on their profile pages as a form of protest…and the company’s crisis communications response is to post nasty insults? Insane.
- Rick Broida at BNET Insight: It’s PR 101: Don’t insult your customers. And in PR 2010, mind your manners in public forums — especially those expressly created for fans of your company! It may be true that there’s no such thing as bad press, but there’s definitely bad social networking — and this is a prime example.
As a mom, (woman, human) I find Nestle’s anti-breastfeeding approach reproachful. As a PR person, I find their defensive online counter attacks idiotic. Their PR team has spent too much time testing the recipes and not enough time remembering the basics of crisis communication. As I have posted here before (any anywhere else people will listen) crisis communication needs to be managed before the crisis, not after. Not always possible, but considering Nestle’s patchy reputation, which marketing genius thought starting a Facebook page was going to end up with comments on the yummy chocolate treats they make? The overwhelming negativity was clearly a response they could have anticipated and planned for. If the plan was to attack their detractors, then they should have shelved their social media efforts entirely.
Did no one on their strategic communications team see this coming? Guess not. Are interns running the corporate giant’s PR department? Possibly. What else could explain the poor implementation of social media and total lack of appropriate crisis communication?
Nestle needs to return to the basic recipe of crisis management: REGRET, RESOLVE, REFORM, RESTITUTION, and dump the: “It’s our page, we set the rules.”
Where was the executive management team when the Facebook page administrator was ripping on customers? Nestle had a wonderful opportunity to sweeten up their image with some genuine customer engagement. Unfortunately, the opportunity has melted faster than a scoop of DREYER’S® ice cream on a hot, deforested Indonesian day.