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Crumbgate: A Case Study

An interesting discussion has been taking place in the Twitterverse and the web regarding a local bakery who tried to “garner attention to help us sell more tasty cupcakes“. Well they really got the attention part down, but I have a feeling if you asked owners of Just Crumb, they probably would like to have the last couple of days back. I am not going to go into the all the details of what happened, if you want the blow by blows, check out the following articles:  The Gloss,Jezebel, Fatshionista and Ignite.

To summarize quickly, Just Crumb bakery attempted to be hip and cutting edge and adopted the slogan, “So Good It Makes Fat People Cry”.  A woman took offense to that slogan and wrote the owners an email.  The owners responded insensitively and proceeded to ridicule this woman via Twitter up to and including calling her the dreaded “C” word.  This sparked a great deal of attention and right about this time I have a feeling the Crumb owners realized that they were not in Kansas anymore.

They proceeded to throw gasoline on the fire by tweeting, “Things we learned on Tuesday: Apparently we do not have private Twitter accounts anymore. Everything is business. Lesson learned.”  (I hear this in my best Lumbergh impression) Yea, unfortunately you did not learn any lessons because no-one cared whether your Twitter account was private or not, they cared about you ridiculing and demeaning another person for reasons unknown. Finally, Crumb posted an apology on their blog which proceeded to get 80 comments of people ripping them a new one before Crumb turned the comments off.

I am not writing this to pile on with everyone else.  To be honest, I feel sorry for the Just Crumb owners.  I have at times in my life said and written things that I wish I hadn’t.  People who are passionate about what they do at times allows that passion to get away from them and we sometimes communicate poorly.  I was actually looking at these events more as a case study in PR and social media.  I was wondering if I could speak to the owners of the bakery right now, what I would tell them and what could they do today, right now, to help themselves?  Here is what I came up with.

You reacted wrong.  You need to realize your initial Twitter post about private accounts, huge mistake.  You did something wrong, we all do, you needed to man up and admit that you were trying to be edgy and funny, but unfortunately it turned to something highly objectionable.

Stop hiding! You haven’t posted a blog post since Tuesday and you haven’t tweeted since Wednesday.  This is the time that you need to be out there communicating with everyone!  You need to turn the burner to high.  You are going to take some hits, stand up and take them.  It is much easier for people to yell and scream at people they do not know or can’t see.  It is much harder for folks to yell and scream when you are willing to pull up a seat at the table and engage with them.  You might not be able to change everyone’s opinions, but you will receive props for showing up.

Put a face to this issue. I know you just want to crawl away and hide until this is over, but you can’t.  Other than the small amount of local folks who know you, no-one knows what you look like.  Your website, blog and Twitter accounts don’t have any pictures of either of you.  If it was me, I would record a video and post it on YouTube and your blog.  Put a face to your names and show your humanity.  Show that your real folks just like the people who are angry with you right now.  Show in your faces and what you say that you realize you made a mistake and want to sincerely apologize for it.  Once again, you are human and we make mistakes.  People will forgive if you ask for forgiveness.

The web never forgets. You are waiting for this to blow over and it will.  Unfortunately, Google has become the memory of the web.  All these blog posts, all the tweets, they will all be indexed by Google and will come up when people do searches for your company as well as your own names for years to come.  Knowing this, don’t you want people to see that you reacted the right way to this crisis?


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