May 14, 2014

We all know that we can't always please everyone. Inevitably, something you say someday will upset someone in your audience. This isn't a news flash. But how you handle those situations will define you and your business.

We see the amazingly disastrous examples in the media enough times to know what not to do. Whether it's deleting comments, or blatantly attacking people via social media (a la Amy's Baking Company last year), there are plenty of examples of what not to do.

But sometimes that line isn't so clear. When do you stop worrying about pleasing everyone and up diving head first into a PR nightmare?

I recently read about another situation that involved Black Milk. They are a fashion company known for their empowerment of women and providing a safe, supportive place for women. They have explicit rules about not bashing other women and providing a positive environment.

I don't know if they hired a new social media manager or what, but they crossed the line with their recent situation.

Essentially, they posted a "joke" about May 4th (Star Wars day) that many of their audience felt was in direct violation of their positive empowerment policy. Their initial responses were barely apologetic and focused on the general sense of: sorry if we offended you but we stand by our post and if you don't like it, you don't have to follow our Facebook page.

While I barely support their response, this is where the line sort of gets blurry. Obviously, you can't please everyone. Some people were "offended" by the joke. Ok. That happens.

But then it got out of control and the line was crossed.

As more and more of their audience complained, the company held their stance. They defended their position and insisted that they wouldn't give in to the minorities. Well, then shiz got real! Given that their brand has a large affiliation with minorities, the comments got serious. Again, the company continued to delete comments it deemed "negative" and to dig in on their stance.

The worst part about it was they started blocking people who voiced concern over their handling of the situation. And many of these people who were blocked were major brand supporters.

Yes, this went too far.

You may occasionally post something that some people don't like. You may have to apologize. Or you may stand by what you said or did. But there are professional, responsible ways to handle these situations.

Be polite. Be genuine. Explain your stance (but don't use it to attack others). Be understanding of others.

That's my advice.

I'd love to hear from you though. What are your tips for handling these situations - and not taking it too far?

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. I agree that you don’t want to run around offending everyone, but at some point you have to get off the fence and take a stance. I think in this shift we’re seeing too many people riding the middle so as to stay PC or not offend that ONE person who will run out and make a lot of noise claiming to be upset or offended. Many times (MANY MANY times) these peeps are just looking for attention.

    I say more brands/pages need to get a thick skin, realize they WON’T please everyone (shouldn’t even try) and pick a side. Again, you can’t run around making ludacris statements, but if it was a joke and a few people didn’t find it funny, OH WELL. Moving on!

    1. I definitely agree that people need to take a stance. As you said, too many people seem so wishy-washy because they’re worried about upsetting someone.
      I think each situation, however, warrants a case-by-case response. Somethings are worth defending adamantly and proudly. Other things just aren’t worth it. For example, Kim Garst proudly defends her religious beliefs (and doesn’t apologize for it) and it has cost her followers. But she’s ok with that. She’s also very sensitive to people’s feelings when it comes to other issues and will apologize if warranted.
      That’s where I think it depends on the person, the business, and the situation. As they say, sometimes you just have to pick your battles.

  2. I always think it best to acknowledge the comment and the poster’s right to their own opinion. If it is something that, upon reflection, is not what you “meant to say”, then it is time for a quick apology saying so. However, if it is simply something that a small amount object to, then it is best to agree to disagree. A quick post thanking them for voicing their opinion then moving on works for me.

Comments are closed.

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