We discussed this on The Tools:
In case you didn’t hear, this happened:
Here’s the story as far as I can make out on Facebook.
This little guy went to Posche Paws in Copley Ohio. It is a place where the dogs can play with each other.
Something happened and this guy got in a fight and got beat up pretty bad.
The story is a perfect recipe for going viral on social media.
People love pets. The 13 million readers of www.reddit.com/r/aww/ will gladly attest to how much we love our pets. Here’s a picture that is currently at the top of that subreddit:
So when one of our doggos gets hurt we are rightfully upset.
Jim tells a heart wrenching story of how his puppy was viciously attached.
And at the end of the story drops this line:
One last comment…The owner refuses to cover all of the medical expenses and has threatened me with her attorney if I post this on Social Media.
The story currently has 6,951 shares, 2.3k Comments and 2.5k reactions. People are pissed!
As of today, the Posche Paws Facebook page has been taken down. And all major review sites have been filled with 1 star reviews.
This is a textbook case of a Social Media nightmare.
This article I’m writing here isn’t about whether or not Posche Paws was right or wrong. It’s also not about Jim Bruce. This article is about what you should do as a company if you ever find yourself in this situation. And maybe it will help the Posche Paws people if they read this. (also, we all agree you should come to our Akron Small Business Marketing Meetup next week. You were the topic of the day today. We have a lot of smart people that can help you.)
There are a lot of articles on how to handle a Public Relations crisis. But here is a good one: How to Handle a PR Crisis | Fortune.com
In a nutshell:
- Don’t cover it up.
- Work directly with the detractor. NEVER attack them.
- Take responsibility.
- Become the center for all communication, good and bad.
- Build a plan for what you are going to do in the future.
- Tell your story of how you are making things better.
Posche Paws has a statement on their site. While good, in my opinion, they ruined all the good will with this line in the post:
Though this is a sensitive issue, this is still a business. Like most daycare and boarding facilities, policies are in place to outline what and who is liable in all situations.
You just lost your entire audience.
Look people: This is a game. If you want to win you have to make it look like you aren’t winning. You win by making the hurt party win.
But I get it. You are now feeling hurt yourself. You are scared. You are afraid your business is going to die (which it very well might at this point). Now you are defensive and angry.
But if you want to survive, I’m going to tell you how to do it:
“I am So so sorry!”
Just say that over and over and over again. Think about all the different ways you can say you are sorry. Meet with Jim, if he’ll have you. Pay all the bills (in this case).
“Have I mentioned how unbelievably sorry I am?”
Doing this will be as cathartic for you as it will be for him and the rest of the community.
You probably do feel bad, after all.
This must be you:
Because after all, what is happening to you is completely out of your control. This is so much so that you have taken down your Facebook page.
Put your Facebook Page back up immediately.
Taking it down makes you look bad in many ways.
- You look afraid of public disapproval.
- You are saying you don’t want to hear what people say.
- And most importantly, you have lost all and total control of the message. If a person searches for you on Facebook, to try to find your page, the only thing that comes up are these pictures.
Will there be death treats? For sure. I mean you haven’t arrived if you haven’t been threatened with the most violent forms of abuse and torture.
Will the messages just keep pouring in? Oh yeah. And there will be no way you can control them all.
You will just have to sit in your shit for a while. Try to learn from the feeling. Not everyone gets this experience. You will learn a lot from it, if you let yourself.
What is next?
This is the key. You must, must, must tell people what is going to happen next.
- Live streaming video cameras will be placed throughout the facility.
- A closer evaluation of dogs and their temperaments will be conducted.
You will put a picture of this dog in your lobby.
You need to let people know very clearly that a place where dogs play together can have accidents.
Don’t hide the fact that dogs will be dogs.
Let people know how you try to mitigate these things. But be honest. Tell people that while it is so valuable that dogs get to be with other dogs, accidents can and do happen. And unfortunately, they happen so fast that it is often too dangerous and quick for a handler to get in the middle of a dog fight.
You must learn honesty, humility and transparency from this incident.
Almost every summer our family goes to Assateague Island. (stay on the State Park side, by the way.). It’s a magical wonderland. THEY HAVE WILD PONIES WALKING AROUND THE ENTIRE ISLAND!! It’s freakin awesome.
But in the bathrooms they have pictures like this:
It is quite possible you could get bitten by a horse. (It’s actually the ticks that are way worse, but whatever.)
They warn you to stay 10 feet away from the horses.
Well let me tell you, last year the horses were in quite a mood. They were pissed! There was no staying away from any horse that didn’t want to be in your face.
Sure, people can and do get bit. But they make it very clear that it can happen.
The same thing can happen at a group doggy day care. But for people that want that experience the benefits outweigh the risks.
My niece dog goes to a play place daycare. She is always coming home with cuts and scrapes. They are dogs, people!!!
This is a HUGE opportunity for your company. You are getting more press than you’ve ever gotten before.
Turn it around.
And if you can’t turn it around because you are too emotionally attached then outsource the work to a third party. I can help you.
Call me. Here’s my cell phone: 330-416-7519
Get control of this situation like now!
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