The social media team at HMV today gave Deloitte, who’d been appointed to deal with the administration of the company, a lesson in crisis management when they live tweeted their own sacking.
At just past 13.25 HMV’s official and verified Twitter account sent out the following tweet: “We’re tweeting live from HR where we’re all being fired! Exciting!! #hmvXFactorFiring“. This tweet went viral with over 1,300 retweets in 30 minutes.
This tweet was followed by 7 others, which told the world what was happening behind closed doors.
The social media team’s other tweets included posts such as: “There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution, of loyal employees who love the brand. #hmvXFactorFiring” and, “Sorry we’ve been quiet for so long. Under contract, we’ve been unable to say a word, or -more importantly – tell the truth #hmvXFactorFiring.”
The best tweet, and one that highlights the generational gap that exists between old-time marketeers and the new digital and connected world came a few minutes later with this comment, “Just overheard our Marketing Director (he’s staying, folks) ask “How do I shut down Twitter?” #hmvXFactorFiring.” It is this tweet, which was retweeted over 200 times. that highlights the failures of traditional marketeers that work for brands such as HMV and who still don’t understand social and digital channels.
Given the company’s failure to adapt to the digital economy it was perhaps unsurprising that HMV didn’t take control of their social media channels before announcing the redundancies. Even the Deloitte and their PRs failed to understand the power of people and influencers on social networks.
If you find yourself in a position where you have to announce bad news, here are a few tips:
- Be transparent in what you announce. Don’t spin, your audience will find out
- Keep your communications team alongside you
- Listen to your audience and gauge their sentiment
- Make sure that social networks are owned by your public relations team
- Engage where you legally can, and don’t delete tweets!
I say don’t delete Tweets, because copies are kept in the cache of many online services, such as Google or Topsy. Here is a link to Topsy Advanced Search, where you can find copies of @HMVtweets posts detailing the firing of staff. You’ll also see data on the number of retweets that each tweet secured.
Other bloggers that have picked up the HMV story include:
- Rachel Miller (@AllThingsIC): Silence a Barking Dog? Or How The HMV Tweets Went Walkies.
- Shel Holtz (@ShelHotz): Think You Can Keep A Layoff Secret? HMV Proves Otherwise