PR Manager, Kristin Schaeffer, weighed in to the San Diego Business Journal on the importance of establishing a communications policy and crisis management plan. Having a framework in place can save one bad social post from doing a lot of damage. 

Read the article below: 

97.3 Exposes Myth That There is No Bad Publicity

San Diego — The importance of communications guidelines was forced into San Diego’s collective consciousness when a local shock jock recently tweeted an insensitive and tone-deaf meme featuring an image of the San Diego-Coronado Bridge with the text “JUMP…to a new morning show.” The social media post was meant to promote the launch of the host’s “Kevin Klein Live” morning show on San Diego’s newly reformatted 97.3 KEGY “The Machine.”

Not surprisingly, however, the post received a ton of backlash and negative press, putting the station in hot water with San Diegans — and Padres’ brass. Entercom, the parent of station of 97.3, also owns the rights to air Padres’ games. But with the Padres being family-friendly and all, this relationship could be in jeopardy.

The “Jump” post at the root of the matter is exactly the type of content that would lead any marketer worth their weight to question, “Who approved that?” Not to mention offer their two cents on the lack of damage control that followed. You know the expression, “There’s no such thing as bad press?” Consider this a prime example proving the expression is a marketing myth.

Set Standards, Guidelines
No matter how “edgy” the business or how much “personality” the brand has, there should always be a set of foundational guidelines in place for brands on social media. Who is your audience? Who are your key stakeholders? What is your brand voice? Does it sync with other brands in your portfolio? What is the chain of command for approvals? How do you respond if there’s a misstep in communication?

Had 97.3 considered their audience and stakeholders, they would have known that state transportation officials recently released a suicide prevention report aimed at the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. They would have known the Padres are governed by standards, not just the FCC, but Major League Baseball as well.

The “Jump” tweet should have never been posted and was surely done with the intent of “going viral.” There are more tasteful ways to engage with your fans. Consider running a contest or launching a poll or a myriad other share-worthy content ideas.

Establishing social media guidelines upfront will allow your brand to market effectively, engage with fans appropriately, and quickly react to issues that may arise.

Have a Crisis Plan
In the case of 97.3, the Padres have been more responsive than the station itself. A day after the original tweet, the host continued to feign outrage and mock fans’ response, even going so far as to retweet the meme again, this time including “#outraged.” It was all fun and games until the Padres went on record to openly consider cutting ties with the station. Only then did Kevin Klein issue an apology. A day late and a dollar short.

“Kevin Klein Live’s” scheduled debut came and went with hardly a word from the station. Listeners who tuned in expecting to hear the host’s mea culpa on what was set to be the show’s premiere were met with old-school rock jams. And at the time of writing, the show is still off-air with no publicized launch date.

Had the appropriate safeguards been in place, 97.3 could have responded quicker (or at all) and more authentically. The right thing to do in a crisis such as this is to offer a timely and transparent response. Instead of radio silence (pun intended), Entercom should have issued a statement with its go-forward plan for both the station and the host. If they needed to buy themselves time, holding statements would have been developed in advance while the situation was assessed. As a gesture of goodwill, Entercom should consider offering media and sensitivity training to their public-facing figures.

For now, for the fans that do remain, they are in the dark. What will become of “Kevin Klein Live?” Will San Diegans offer the host a second chance? Will the Padres make a move? Only time will tell. But this is one drama that could have been saved had it been for brand guidelines and a crisis communications plan.


Kristin Schaeffer is Marketing & Communications Director for Klunk & Millan Advertising, which has offices in San Diego and Allentown, Pa.