Swedish Oat milk brand, Oatly, faced consumer backlash with widespread calls to boycott the brand, following a $200m investment from the Blackstone Investment Group - a company accused of contributing to Amazon deforestation.Continue reading "Lessons from an ‘unwinnable’ crisis"
The Chairman of Beattie Communications, Gordon Beattie, resigned last week for comments he made in a LinkedIn post. You can see the post for yourself below.
His only defence was that his post was made with “the best of intent”. Others have called his comments insensitive, racist, homophobic, utterly unacceptable, and abhorrent. I don’t disagree with any of these descriptions.
The nature of the comments is one thing.
The language he used is offensive, outdated, and demonstrates how far removed this ‘PR juggernaut’ (as described in the media) is from the society in which we live today. The recent resignation of FA Chairman Greg Clarke for using similarly inappropriate language shows that Beattie’s ‘error’ is not an isolated incident.
But what this highlights is how even the most senior people in a business require external support; a second pair of eyes from someone outside the organisation provides the objective sense-check that can stop these incidents from happening, especially when communicating on such a sensitive issue. After all, it’s often difficult for staff to say no to senior figures in the business.
Beattie’s post brings to the fore another major issue in the industry – using provocation to gain likes, higher reach, and attention. Social networks are often fuelled by dissent, disagreement, and polarisation. Unfortunately, being provocative ‘works’ if all you want to do is reach a wider audience.
But it’s lazy practice and a cheap trick. It’s for people who have run out of ideas. It can be damaging, dangerous, and as Gordon Beattie is realising, can destroy reputations in an instant. He was clearly trying to be ‘clever’, but the provocative approach was all wrong. Instead of shining a light on an important issue, his lack of understanding of the platform, the nuance of messaging and the society in which we live, has been his undoing.
Featured Image by Steve Johnson
More brands today are using digital campaigns to signpost their values (think Nike, Dove and Under Armour), leaving people in no doubt as to where they stand, and how they will effect positive change. Being big with global reach helps, but even then bravery is fraught with reputational and financial risk. Just ask L’Oreal or Pepsi.
Take one senior politician, one well-known and much-loved brand, and add social media. Stir together and what do you get?
That’s right, the perfect recipe for a Twitter storm.
That’s exactly what happened to Yorkshire Tea this weekend when Rishi Sunak MP, the Conservative MP for Richmond (in North Yorkshire as it happens) shared an image of himself making a cup of tea, standing next to a giant bag of the famous Yorkshire brew.
Why social media companies should (but probably won’t) act responsibly and lead the conversation on mental health
Social media companies are some of the most powerful and influential business entities on the planet. Their decisions shape how the world communicates and how we as individuals consume information. Unlike most large-scale global commercial industries, social media is self-regulating. This puts social media companies in a unique position of global responsibility.
A new report published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists last week said social media companies should be forced by governments to hand over their data for independent research into the risks of social media use.
We all know the feeling.
Your phone pings, then again… and again… something has happened.
Twitter is “blowing up” says the voice on the other end of the line. Five minutes later; “it’s all over Facebook”. The on-call Press Officer rings next; local media want a response to the hundreds of comments on Twitter.
So, what’s your next move?
If you’re asking this question now, it’s too late.