PR Tips: #AskCommish Goes Awry

2014-05-14 by Ronn Torossian

ronn torossian nflHashtag PR campaigns can go either way. It’s a reality you have to embrace before you ever decide to embark on a very public conversation in a very flippant, off the cuff context. But, brands try it all the time. Some with great success, including Adidas UK, the WWE, Starbucks, and Taco Bell. Some, like JetBlue can look at their social media forays as a bit of a mixed bag. Others go completely off the rails. Looking at youMcDstories. The NFL’s #AskCommish campaign fits squarely in the latter.

Understanding these points can help your business keep from making the same mistakes. 

#1 – The demographic is snarky, the forum makes it more so: You never get away with heckling a professional comedian, and you never get away with getting a group of football fans together without a healthy dose of razzing. It’s part of the fan culture, and it’s most often a fun and healthy social aspect of the game. But, there’s something about Twitter that turns everyone into a comedian, and the one-sided nature of the venue – only one Commish and millions of “funny guys” – makes for a very uneven playing field.

#2 – No other voice: These are fans suddenly given access to the Commissioner. That’s like Greeks suddenly being transported to Olympus. For one brief moment, the football gods are listening. Of course you’re going to let them have it. Even if Goodell wasn’t responsible for whatever reason you have to feel aggrieved, this is too great a chance to pass up.

#3 – Unaddressed discontent: This last point ties in with the previous. Fans have made their discontent known in very public ways in the past. Much of that went unnoticed, or at least was perceived to have gone unnoticed. That frustration has built up, and SUDDENLY the people have a very public outlet.

The solutions? Use Twitter in a more controlled, less Wild West context. JetBlue is a mixed bag not because it gets hammered by discontented flyers, but because that discontent is moderated by scads of great customer service examples. Other companies effectively use Twitter and other social media as forums for fans to continue a conversation. It’s less a gripe session, and more of a give and take. Not only does this present the fans an opportunity to air grievances, it also allows them to feel as if they are part of a larger voice.

About Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the Founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations. He is an experienced leader in the public relations industry with over 20 years of experience. Ronn Torossian has been named as Public Relations executive of the year by the American Business Awards, and has run countless award-winning Public Relations programs.

Ronn Torossian: Insights from a Native New Yorker and CEO of 5WPR

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 200 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider, and a recipient of Crain’s New York 2021 Most Notable in Marketing & PR. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and has authored two editions of his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations," which is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities