So, you’re Britain’s biggest food supplier and you’ve just been outed for selling beef burgers that contain horse meat – lots of them. This is where the millions of dollars you spend a year on communications pays off, right? This is when your seasoned PR team swarms into action – pagers buzz (yes some people still use them), phones wake weary senior flak in the middle of the night and the crisis strategy you’ve painstakingly planned throughout the years kicks in. Unfortunately for Tesco, their crisis plan barely got out of the gate before tripping over itself.
When the SHTF and an issue threatens to hurt a person or company’s reputation, one of the first things you do is notify those who need to know. CEO – obviously. Legal Counsel – definitely. Communications team, who if they were good, may have identified the crisis first – of course! How about those who tweet to the world on behalf of your company – DUH! Well something seems to have been lost in translation, because days – yes – DAYS after the crisis broke, the Tesco Twitter team issued the following mind boggling Tweet:
Shortly after issuing the foot-in-mouth post, hundreds of angry followers and customers responded – blasting and mocking the brand – further exacerbating the already damaging crisis. Tesco replied with an apology and said that the Tweet had been planned before they learned they were slinging horse patties. Poor excuse rife with flaws in itself. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and blame it, not on a pitiful display of professional communications, rather, a lack of a grasp on idioms and their meanings. A little bit more excusable, maybe … but, yeah, a grasp of the English language is also a good skill to seek out when appointing someone to Tweet to the world on behalf of your multi-billion dollar organization.
Congrats, Tesco, you are the 5th runner up for this year’s “Did I Do That?” Social Media Awards!