FUSE FRIDAY’S: All publicity is good publicity? ONLY when you know what you’re doing

In case you missed it, last month Greggs (the UK’s leading bakery chain), managed to turn a potential digital PR disaster into a social media #win.

Those of us in the industry can appreciate this is no small challenge, especially with the live nature of social media, so we had a closer look at what went down and what we can learn from this.

Since the 1930’s Greggs have been proudly serving up bakery favourites like pasties, sausage rolls and sandwiches alongside doughnuts and vanilla slices to loyal Greggs fans across the United Kingdom.

On August 19th, 2014 however, the family-focussed chain landed itself involuntarily in a potentially brand destroying mess thanks to a Google algorithm glitch.

Where a consumer would usually search Greggs Bakery and land on the brands ‘Always fresh. Always Tasty’ message’, on this fateful August day the Google search algorithm had something else in mind.

Consumers who searched for Greggs were instead served up the company logo alongside the message ‘providing s**t to scum for over 70 years’ as a result of an image being created on uncyclopedia.wikia.com, a parody of Wikipedia, and making an appearance due to a glitch in Google’s algorithms.

This was one unfortunate Google mishap that burned the company in a way that is only fit for the age of the internet thanks to one very damaging hack.

It’s safe to say twitter when into a frenzy, but thanks to the quick, honest and playful response from the Greggs social media team…things didn’t turn out so bad!

Where a more corporate approach could have been taken behind the scenes, instead Greggs social media team tackled this battle with Google head first in the public arena by sharing a series of well thought through yet humorous tweets to their 88,000 followers:













Acknowledging the honest and transparent response, and their obvious error this led to an open dialogue between Google UK and Greggs, which resulted in the public apology.














What Can We Learn?

In the digital age, PR and social media agencies need to be more ready than ever to respond, and respond publicly, to anything that the public (or media partner in this case) throw their way.

However, having the agency prepared is only one part of the solution, because many of these events are difficult to predict it is equally important that clients  are prepared to empower their agencies to respond to any situation (in a human and in this case humorous way) as and when it arises, as the live nature of digital demands this.


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