February 11 2015

Winter 2015: Twitter PR #Fail

Talk about the storm that wasn’t – well, in New York City anyway. Boston hasn’t been so lucky.

As news of a giant “Snowmaggedon” began to spread through traditional and social media, the inevitable happened – someone tweeted something that was nothing more than self promotion.

Will they ever learn?

It seems that no trending topic is immune to corporate shilling. Last week’s Nor’easter was no exception as Twitter began to light up with the trending topic winter storm #Linus. When companies start to insert themselves into the conversation the problem is quite obvious. When all people can think of is how they are going to get work, or more importantly, how they are going to get home, the last thing on their minds is online shopping.

In the New York City area, transit ground to a halt and roads were closed. All across the Northeastern U.S and the east coast of Canada, supermarket shelves were emptied of essentials. The Boston metropolitan area continues to get battered after a series of storms that dumped up to 6 feet of snow in 17 days.

The potential for destructive weather was reminiscent of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

What was also reminiscent of Sandy was the seemingly insensitive tweets coming from corporate Twitter accounts. Rather than offering useful weather information or simply wishing that their followers stay safe, some online retailers saw the storm as an opportunity to push their products.

Who’s bundling up for #Juno? We’ve got our blankets & candles ready. pic.twitter.com/XFd2jNbgvK

— H&M USA (@hmusa) January 26, 2015

Why is this a problem?

When the wind starts blowing, when the snow starts to pile up and the thermometer plunges, we want information – useful, timely information. We want to know when the lights will come back on, when the subways will run again and when the sun will come out to melt all the white stuff.

What you need to know

The lesson for those unfamiliar with PR is a simple one: People want useful, timely information. So the real lesson – stop talking about yourself and start talking to your audience about what they need.

And since winter is definitely not over in North America, you may like Frankie MacDonald’s amateur weather reports (Twitter @frankiemacd). He offers useful information that you may need the next time a Nor’easter starts blowing your way.

Check out his videos here

Check out this tweet by Land Rover Canada – is this a better use of Twitter? Let us know what you think.

When you’re having this much fun, you’ll barely notice the frosty air. #HIBERNOT pic.twitter.com/xGGWYyVjvL

— Land Rover Canada (@LandRoverCanada) January 22, 2015