Maclaren’s Crisis Management: What would you do?

As long as the company works well, managers often do not matter about a possible crisis. But when such a situation comes up, a quick and strategic reaction is necessary, and even big concerns are not always well prepared.

What happend

Maclaren, a British high-end stroller producer, had to recall about 1 million strollers in November 2009, due to the risk of children’s fingertip amputations. At least in 15 cases, the danger became already reality. Maclaren published a press release for alerting consumers. They should stop using these two concerned strollers and contact Maclaren to get a free repair kit. But nowadays, couldn’t they have done more?

Importance of Internet

When a company is faced with a crisis, the situation is extremely dangerous: the company’s image and survival are threatened. For limiting negative consequences, an immediate and honest statement is deciding. Internet provides great opportunities for doing this, by publishing facts and continuous updates, the company can probably limit rumors. Interactive elements as video conferences, blogs or Twitter support communication and questions can easily be answered. Four aspects, which Maclaren didn’t consider, could be helpful for a successful dialog.

1. Website accessibility

In case of important news, as the finger-amputation-stoller, people nowadays will not phone the company to get information. The fist reaction is: consulting the website. However for most panic parents it wasn’t possible, the website was simply overloaded. The PR Manager needs to know the contact person in charge of increasing bandwidth and server capacity. On the website should be a big button “Stroller Recall” or something near it. Even if it could be considered as bad publicity for the own company, consumers want to be up to date and further damage will be prevented.

2. Twitter

“Share and discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world.” Why not use Twitter for Crisis PR? Users will certainly discuss this issue on Twitter, and Maclaren could have done it as well. Parents want to be appeased, and discussion with other people is a great remedy. But it provokes rumors as well. The best way could be the company’s presence on Twitter. Questions can be answered rapidly, facts can be twittered and parents appeased.

3. Blog Comments

Twitter is not the only Social Media instrument Maclaren could have used. Blogs become more and more present in our daily life and are a useful tool as well. The concerned company could engage special Crisis bloggers who search the web for new blog entries concerning the accidents and the recall. Again, questions can be answered via comments. Not only the publisher, other bloggers as well will get a statement and help. At best, positive comments will dispersed virus-like.

4. Facebook

Yes, Facebook again and again. But used in a correct way, this Social Media tool can work wonders. Facebook is for many internet users the first place to go. That’s the reason why it should be the first place to edit news, right? Maclaren was pro-active in this case, they published information in thr group “Maclaren Baby”. The only mistake is that links to Twitter didn’t work, no “Send an Update to Fans” was active and questions were not answered. Facebook can help companies in a crisis, but when they decide to use Social Media, they should be used correctly.

Other ideas?

These four aspects are certainly not the only to-dos, but they are important in our internet era. RSS feeds and youtube videos could help as well. By the way, a youtube video was published, explaining the danger and giving contact data. However Social Media is not the only PR crisis instrument. The first thing people do at home is put the TV on. So, press conferences on TV and news announced over the radio are still important. The right mix should be used, or? What would you do?

For more information

Using Social Media for Crisis PR: What Maclaren Could Have Done Differently

Maclaren’s Stroller Recall: A Stumbling Response Online

News from CPSC



One Response to “Maclaren’s Crisis Management: What would you do?”

  1. ckdfs Says:

    Hello Ann-Kathrin,
    I think your post is really interesting, especially as you combined the crisis management aspect with the importance that the Internet plays in this context! Talking about website accessibility, I also think of so called “Darksites”. It is a pre-developed, non-public Website that can be published to the live Web in the event of a crisis. This can be used by the companies as a prevention tool, but also as an rapidly updated database in a actual crisis.

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