Maclaren has become the latest victim of social media activism. They have joined a growing list of companies to experience the influence and power of Bloggers and Tweeters.
I find this story interesting for a few reasons:
a. Shows the global and local effect’s of social media’s influence
b. Shows how social media monitoring should be a critical piece of your media mix
c. A PR/media “crisis” can hit you from anywhere at anytime. Companies of all sizes must adjust communications strategies to manage risk. Crossover of media can have a global wildfire effect.
Maclaren is a UK manufacturer of baby pushcarts. Last week they announced the recall of 1M baby pushchairs in the US sold by Target and Babies-R-Us. This was after 15 reports of injuries to children’s fingers. They offered US customers free repair kits. However, despite having identical products in both UK and US markets, in the UK, rather than a recall or an offer of repair kits, they simply assured parents not to worry about it.
It didn’t take long for social networks and blogging sites to react. Some created email templates to send to the firm. Even the UK Foreign Secretary, David Milliband referenced the debate in his Tweet.
So Maclaren did a quick U-turn and has adopted an identical policy for the UK and Canada.
Spanning the Globe: On one hand the social media part of this is a big deal. The UK Financial Times wrote about it and the company has changed a policy that may have a huge impact on their bottom line.
Company Recovery: On the other hand, they moved pretty quickly and the real story here is the recall, not the social media impact. They listened to what was said on blogs and Twitter and were able to quickly change their policy. I’d call that good social media monitoring and pretty speedy action for a large company.
Board Room Chat: There is now one more company where social media has made it to the boardroom. They were able to recover after taking a little time to reflect that the two policies didn’t make sense. Every boardroom should take notice of how quickly this was fueled by diverse networks of people angered by the situation.
I suspect 90% of customers will probably not be aware of the hesitation that came ahead of the policy change. In a month’s time this will be remembered as just a recall story. And the twitter chat continues.
What do you think?