How Greggs baked up a masterclass in social media crisis management
Unexpected parody blitz fails to ruffle food chain’s web team, which weighed in with a well-judged and good-natured response to Twitter trolls
This week, one brand showed it certainly wasn’t “out of the office” for August, as it managed to turn a potential PR disaster around to win some great coverage.
On Tuesday, web users noticed that Google’s search profile page for high-street baker Greggs was importing an incorrect logo from a satire site. Instead of stating the bakery chain’s official tagline “Always Fresh, Always Tasty”, the parody version of the logo went for the somewhat more contentious “Providing shit to scum for over 70 years”. Thanks to a large number of social media users joining the fray, Greggs was quickly bumped up the list of top trends on Twitter – and the logo quickly went viral.
Facing a seriously tricky PR obstacle course, Greggs – whose digital team was both in the office and on the ball – decided to respond with a friendly and humorous tweet. Digital brand manager Neil Knowles posted a picture of a tray of doughnuts with the message, “Hey @GoogleUK, fix it and they're yours!!! #FixGreggs”.
In short order, Google replied with a tweet saying “Sorry @GreggstheBakers, we’re on it. Throw in a sausage roll and we'll get it done ASAP. #FixGreggs”. The search behemoth’s team even included a picture of Homer Simpson with some doughnuts to show they were on board with the joke.
Sure enough, Google proved true to its word, and the logo image was fixed soon after. But Greggs knew it was on to a good thing and continued to tweet messages in response to other users, rolling with the punches and generally showing a defiant sense of humour.
Greggs and its web team has since been widely hailed for averting a PR crisis and completely turning the situation to the company’s advantage. However, some doubting critics have already spoken out, asking what was so special about the way it was handled. But there is clearly something to celebrate here – so many companies get social media wrong.
So, what was it that Greggs did right?
Firstly, they acted fast, and didn’t let their Twitter feed sit silent as the “gaffe” accusations flooded in.
Secondly, they responded accordingly: they weren’t dealing with a life-and-death situation, so a calm, amusing tone worked well.
Thirdly, they engaged with their followers, arguably with the aim of ensuring that the whole event dragged on – which naturally translated into a hogging of the social media limelight and hours more free coverage.
Will Edwards is managing director at media training consultancy Bluewood Training