From the moment a man opens fire at your place of business, you are in a struggle for control of your brand.
For AMC Theaters, the struggle began within minutes of moviegoers being ushered out of the company’s Century 16 multiplex in Aurora, CO. That’s when the first tweet went out that “police r swarmin century 16.”
By morning, it was the nightmare every company worries about: your brand is attached to a national story that you have almost no control over. Even though almost every reasonable person recognizes that AMC could have done little to prevent it, the company found itself playing defense on the periphery of an enormous story that could directly affect its business.
From this point on, everything you announce, post and say will be scrutinized from every direction, fairly or not and you now have a deep relationship to the event and the customers who suffered. Acknowledging the impact on your business while some of your customers are mourned and others are in the hospital is perceived to be unseemly. Even a blog post like this gets special attention to be certain that it recognizes the much larger tragedy: that everyday people were killed for no other reason than that they went to see a movie.
For AMC this meant that their efforts to point out that they had a policy banning guns from their locations was only met with scorn and a new policy banning masks and fake guns became a Internet meme about costumes the company had to take to Twitter to dampen.
“Contrary to media reports, costumes are not banned, but we will not admit guests with face-concealing masks and we will not allow fake weapons in the buildings. We want all our guests to feel comfortable at our theatres and we will be closely monitoring,” the company said.
That a tragedy now unfolds on social media is a fact. Companies have no choice today but to monitor all the social portals for breaking news about themselves.
So, what does this mean and how can companies use online and social media to prepare for the crisis that could be tomorrow’s headline shared around the world? Here are some steps to take:
At Elasticity, our thoughts are with those affected by the tragedy. To donate to the families of the Aurora victims visit givingfirst.org.