Carefully Crafted on May 04

Nationwide Demonstrates How To Respond to Online Criticism


Headquartered in Columbus, OH, Nationwide Insurance does a lot of good for my home city, but that doesn’t mean they’re protected from online backlash. This week, The Candle Lab posted a photo on Facebook with the following caption:

So…it was brought to our attention today that Nationwide Insurance took an image of our candle with our logo/label on it, removed the text, and dropped in new text to use on a coaster advertisement. I try to not to be too sensitive about this stuff, but this is so clearly a rip-off of our logo and trademark and a shot at our scented candles that its hard not to be pissed. Its not too much to expect that one Columbus-based big company wouldn’t steal a likeness and take a cheap shot at a small Columbus-based company.

93 comments and 27 shares later (of just that original image), this had the potential to turn into a David vs Goliath battle. However, Nationwide acted quickly — responding to comments on The Candle Lab’s Facebook page, as well as other Facebook pages from the Nationwide corporate account. Additionally, the VP of Corporate Communication responded from his personal Facebook page.

 

Both companies acted like grownups. Posting his email and phone number in the comments, The Candle Lab’s owner invited Nationwide to contact him directly to come up with a fair solution. Then, he continued to share updates on Facebook to let people know that Nationwide reached out to him and apologized. This morning, The Candle Lab posted that Nationwide has offered to donate $500 to a charity of their choice.

When an online controversy starts to bubble to the surface, a company’s poor response can escalate a “situation” to a crisis. After all, in crisis, if you’re not quick, you’re not relevant; however, the swift response needs to make sense for situation. As Elissa Freeman wrote, brands should consider these three filters when facing an online outcry:

  1. Consider the demographic. Do they affect my business? Are they an organized entity?
  2. Prevent knee-jerk reactions. Do we need to respond? Now or later?
  3. Implement good crisis communications. The rules still apply depending on the severity of the situation.

The speed at which people can mobilize can catch companies off-guard, which sometimes leads to questionable decisions. The blogosphere likes to mock companies that #fail at crisis communication; however, in this case, Nationwide should be applauded for responding quickly — and,  just as importantly, responding in a manner befitting the situation.

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