Kenneth Cole & Every CEO: This Is Your Social Media Wakeup Call

Nancy MyrlandAll Posts, Crisis Management, Social Media 51 Comments

Your phone rings, and a voice loudly tells you:

“Hello, this is your social media wakeup call.  Get up, and don’t ever sleep through that alarm again. Do you hear me?!”

An almost unbelievable situation unfolded on the Internet today.

I began seeing Tweets, Facebook updates, comments, blog posts and private messages alerting the entire world to the fact that Kenneth Cole, a major brand name for many years, had Tweeted the following via their Twitter account:

“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at {link is now inactive, so I deleted it}”

Really, Kenneth Cole?!

I was shocked at the insensitivity and clueless nature of a post like this.  I’ve been watching the uprising and associated bloodshed the past several days, saddened by an oppressive regime that is attempting to bind the mouths, hands, and brains of human beings.  What has been apparent is that the regime can not bind their souls, which I and the rest of the world have witnessed in their passionate call for change.

The next move I saw was another Tweet, allegedly from Kenneth Cole himself:

I somehow missed the appropriate major apologetic response, so I Tweeted the following response to KC, or Kenneth Cole:

The next we heard from Kenneth Cole was this on the brand’s Facebook Page, tucked back in the Discussions Tab:

I don’t know about all of you, but I don’t find this to be an apology of the proportion needed to match the size of the crisis he has created for his brand, and which is only growing in severity by the minute.  Yes, it is a sincere start, but it has now taken on a life of its own and is a lesson on what NEVER to do via social media.  He is probably a very good man, but that is now beside the point as this is a business that needs to act appropriately to mitigate the situation they have now created for themselves.

The Internet & I Responded to Kenneth Cole

I joined the growing number of people engaging in a crisis communications discussion on his Facebook Page by offering the following suggestions to him:

I offer that advice to all of you, too, along with the following:

  • Social media are serious communication tools.
  • They are not toys.
  • Understand that when you misstep in such public arenas, the consequences will most likely grow to become very, very large and important to a lot of people very quickly.
  • You should make sure the person, or people, you have communicating for you via social, and ALL, media, are mature enough to understand your brand, the world, your place in the world, and consequences of your and their actions.
  • The above suggestion has nothing to do with age or title, but of professionalism, intelligence, business acumen, and common sense.
  • Talk about crisis communications today so you understand how you should react if and when this occurs to you.
  • When you mess up, apologize.
  • When you apologize, be sincere about it, and do everything within your power to help people understand how much you mean it.

Thanks to my friend, Tim Baran, for encouraging me to write this post.

Nancy Myrland, Myrland Marketing & Social Media and LinkedIn Coach For LawyersNancy Myrland is a Marketing and Business Development Plan Consultant, and a Content, Social & Digital Media Speaker, Trainer & Advisor, helping lawyers and legal marketers grow by integrating all marketing disciplines. She is a frequent LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook for Business trainer, as well as a content marketing specialist. She helps lawyers, law firms, and legal marketers understand how to make their marketing and business development efforts more relevant to their current and potential clients, and helps lead law firms through their online digital strategy when dealing with high-stakes, visible cases. As an early and constant adopter of social and digital media and technology, she also helps firms with blogging, podcasts, video marketing, and livestreaming. She can be reached via email here.