Thursday, June 28, 2012
Yesterday I read an article about SheKnows.com (touted as the #1 women's site on the internet). Unfortunately, SheKnows.com is in hot water and I am certain their #1 ranking has slipped considerably.
According to the Adweek article, the editors sent out emails encouraging their writers to repeatedly click on Panera's ads, which is known as click fraud. When Panera found out what they did, they immediately pulled their ads. Click fraud is punishable by law and is considered a felony in some states.
SheKnows.com issued a statement that the editors were "disciplined" and the editors violated their ad policies. My question to management: did these actually editors read an employee handbook that clearly states their ad policies? And did these editors sign off that they read and understood their ad policies? If they signed on the dotted line, then they definitely have good reason to fire these editors. If no such handbook exists, then the responsibility falls on the shoulders of management/HR.
I dug around online, and I did not see ANY comments from SheKnows.com directly responding to people's comments - most were unfavorable comments against the site. A negative article in Adweek is not the kind of 'bad' publicity you want. There is a huge lesson to be learned from their mistake. And click fraud is more than just an "oops"!
Hopefully, you won't EVER experience this kind of PR nightmare, but it could happen. If you find your company faced with a crisis situation that could seriously damage your reputation, keep these tips in mind. Be proactive and NOT reactive!
#1 If there are legal implications involved, seek legal advice/counsel immediately.
#2 Take immediate disciplinary action against employees who were involved. It's important to get all the facts first. Dependent upon what policies were violated, you may have to fire employees.
#3 Appoint your marketing/communications director (who understands media relations) to handle ALL media inquiries. If you don't have a designated marketing person, appoint your CEO or owner to take the lead. Do not allow staff to answer questions or talk to media. Issue a formal statement to the media and don't waiver in your statements. Remain calm. Don't become reactionary or defensive when answering questions. Don't forget to respond directly to "negative "comments on your website, blog, and social media channels. Use online rep management software or Google alerts to track your brand/company name.
#4 Right the wrong. If the "mistake" involves another company, customer client, or vendor (in this case, Panera), how can you make it up to them? Keep the communications channels open and don't shut your door in their face.
#5 Take a good, hard look at your employees and policies. Do your research. Why did this happen? How can you improve your policies and operations? A company should never become complacent and static. Communicate with your employees and see where the break-down happened.
I'm a stickler for business ethics and I realize that mistakes happen, but this is one mistake that could be very costly for SheKnows.com. And no one wants to buy ads from a company who engages in fraudulent online activity. Ads equal revenue and without ads, their bottom-line will be seriously impacted.
Have you experienced a crisis situation within your company or business? How did you handle it? What were your results?
Monday, June 25, 2012
When I was visiting their Wine Center, I purchased these really cool frozen wine bottle coolers for myself and to give away as gifts. Unfortunately, I got a dud and the cooler leaked red gunk all over the place (after I put it inside the freezer). I called the Wine Center at Kendall-Jackson and explained what happened. He apologized profusely, and gave me the option of a refund or he would send me another cooler. I really wanted another cooler, so I asked him to ship me another one (which he was more than happy to do - at their expense). But he took it one step further and asked me what kind of wine I liked. I tasted their Avant while I was there, so I told him I really liked their Avant. He threw in a free bottle of wine to make it up to me. Now that is my idea of awesome customer service. He wanted to make up for "my" inconvenience by sending me a bottle of wine.
So now I have a new wine bottle cooler AND a complimentary bottle of their delicious Avant Chardonnay headed my way. A HUGE thanks to the Kendall-Jackson Wine Center. Thanks for treating your customers with courtesy and going the extra mile to ensure my customer satisfaction. Word-of-mouth travels fast and I know lots of wine drinkers. I plan to sing KJ's praises as an example of fantastic customer service!
It's really easy to complain about the businesses who treat customers poorly, but it's even more important to commend those businesses who treat their customers well.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
I am lucky to live in northern California and I have lots of healthy restaurant choices at my disposal. As a copywriter for the food and restaurant industry, I like to stay on top of the industry trends. Not to mention, I'm a foodie and love to cook with fresh, local ingredients and produce.
I read a positive article this morning in QSR Magazine that shows how the restaurant/food industry is moving towards a more "eco-friendly" trend.
"Epic Burger’s website stakes out a strong claim to purity. “Our menu is all about what is NOT on it,” the site says. It explains what’s missing: “hormones, antibiotics, trans fats, food coloring, preservatives, nitrates, and yellow mustard."
Consumers have moved (and are moving) towards a health-conscious lifestyle, and they care about what they put into their bodies. And the restaurant industry is responding to this growing and popular need. You only have to watch Supersize Me to know that greasy, fatty fast-food is dangerous and how it can damage our bodies.
And the industry is taking a page from fruits and veggies. Although, you do have to be careful of high sugar content in some juices, it's nice to know that the industry is giving consumers a healthy alternative (and non-dairy choices) - fresh, natural juices.
"Jamba Juice is currently the strongest player in the juice space, but there are other up-and-coming brands as well. Roxberry Juice, which has eight stores in two states, was recently added to Beautiful Brands International’s portfolio, and the recently founded Daily Kitchen & Wellness Bar also offers fresh juice blends. One key element of the new juice craze will be to-go offerings. Ready-to-go drinks and foods like those offered by Evolution Fresh will continue to gain in popularity, even in locations not traditionally associated with healthy eating."
According to the American Diabetes Assocation, there are 25.8 million children and adults in the United States. And out of those people, 8.3% of the U.S. population have diabetes. So it's promising news that the restaurant and food industries are offering eco-friendly and healthier choices for consumers.
And don't forget to shop locally at Farmer's Markets and your local farms - home is where the healthy heart is at!
Friday, June 15, 2012
Wow, it's been a crazy week packed with deadlines. I just turned in an article that included bios of the lovely editors I interviewed. I jazzed up their bios as I realized that they didn't give themselves enough credit. They both loved the extra OOMPH I added to their bios.
As we approach the long days of summer, it might be a good time to crank the AC, and sit down and revise your bio. As you read through your bio, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Does your bio reflect your true personality and brand?
2. Is your bio basically a regurgitation of your resume?
3. Is it creative and makes people want to learn MORE about you?
4. Does your bio read like boring corporate-speak?
5. Would you hire or interview yourself after reading your bio?
Ask a colleague or friend to review your bio, or hire a copywriter or editor to spruce up your bio. A bio is a highly effective marketing tool that gives people an authentic glimpse behind the curtain.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Just another reason why I love living in northern California...a foodie and wine lover's paradise!