Category Archives: Crisis Management

34 Entertaining 404 Error Pages

It’s sometimes easy for me to see the 404 Error Page as a metaphor for my life, especially if I’m having a bad day. It’s not a unique feeling to me, but one that is quite universal in its reach. Think about it in relation to yourself. You are just minding your own business, say, at the mall, shopping, and you have a brief encounter with a stranger who yells at you about something. Maybe you are talking on your cell phone on one of those mall benches next to them, and disturbing their peace. You know the kind of encounter I’m talking about. The random one that ends up with unpleasantries. They are quick bee-stings. In fact, a bee-sting is a great example of this very type of encounter. You’re smelling a flower in a garden and bam! A bee flies out of the bush and stings you on the nose. Your day has now taken an abrupt new course.

The 404 may not be that unpleasant, but it does take you off track, and with a stark, stoic message.
You are navigating your way through the site, searching for something, and you get hit with the ugly, white page and severe font and that bleak, annoying message: “404 Error. Page Not Found.”

When I’m responsible for the management of a site, that message is a stab in the heart. “What did I do? How did I let this happen?” I feel like I’ve let my puppy off leash and now he’s lost. As a person who sees the 404 Error Page as not just a broken link, a lost page, or a website gone haywire, but as one of life’s sudden and unexpected bee stings, I was quite pleased this morning when I read this latest wonder-piece from Mashable, “34 Entertaining 404 Error Pages.” These brands and artists have turned the dreary 404 into something funny and full of color.

Read, view, enjoy. My favorite is #6. That gal could so easily be me and the way I feel when life’s little bees start stinging.

Gap Returns to Old Blue Logo After Fans Gripe

The Gap is returning to their old blue logo. I blogged about this in my last post, and so naturally, I will be bragging today to all my friends how I blogged about The Gap’s new logo and forced them to change it back to the old. The power of blogging, the power of Audacious Ink. . .(cue the needle scratching abruptly across the record.)

Okay, delusions aside, seriously, wow: the power of the masses. The Gap was a trending topic because of the logo flap. No one liked it. Graphic design blogs were sounding in, marketing blogs, fan blogs, fashionistas blog, probably pet blogs even sounded in, who knows, but seriously, half the Internet was talking about this. The Gap realized the mistake they made strategically and reversed it.

Will this be a case study in future marketing classes? It’s gotta be.

In this article, there is a great, succinct quote about brands that I am going to reuse myself in the future, as it’s the best I’ve heard. “Logos are key to brands because they convey meaning and are something fans feel connected to.” Emily Fredix, the AP marketing writer who wrote the story gets credit for that one. I think she hit the nail on the head, and it explains, in part, why there was such an uproar. It’s a logo, right? Who cares?

We did, and the Gap listened and responded quickly. I’m so misty-eyed over this marriage of branding and t-shirts that I think I’m going to shop at The Gap today in Sherman Oaks. Look for my Foursquare check-in.

My Marketing Sins and Yom Kippur

While I’m not Jewish, last night I did go to my boyfriend’s parents’ house for a somewhat traditional Yom Kippur “breaking-the-fast” dinner. I say somewhat traditional because tuna salad and macaroni and cheese were on the menu. And no, it wasn’t a concession for me, they just like tuna salad and mac and cheese.

The subject of atoning for our sins never came up, but by the second or third glass of wine, I started thinking about my sins: my marketing sins. I reflected on the last year and offenses I committed:

1. I was late to the game on location-based social networking. I shunned Gowalla. I rejected Foursquare. I said, “Whatever,” to Whrrrl. Don’t get me started on Facebook Places. I finally got on board by accepting Gowalla and Foursquare into my life, but I’ve largely ignored them. I did check in on Foursquare during a recent business trip, which led to much Twittering with some friends, and for a brief moment, I saw the light. Then I remembered that there was a stalkerish side to Foursquare and have not cracked it open since. Maybe today.

2. I have not been good about picking up the phone and calling clients that I have not spoken to in a while. Or as we tend to call it in the marketing world, “Hugging my clients.” I guess I’m not a hugger.

3. I have forsaken my blog all too often. The number one commandment of blogging is “Feed The Beast.” My beast is a size 2 given the amount of blogging I’ve done. This is a beast that could use some mac and cheese a few times a week.

4. I have ditched networking events in favor of television. Yes, I’ve skipped a networking event or two this year if something were on TV that I really wanted to do. I think this act alone may send me straight to marketing Hell.

5. I sent out a press release recently that had photos attached, but neglected to add the photo captions at the end of the release. Oy.

6. I listened to a client’s direction on a project, and then left out a key element (focus on males 18-25) and pitched too feminine an idea. They didn’t reject it—and it cost them. Double Oy. They shrugged it off, but this is one sin I’m never going to stop atoning for. Always listen to what the client is telling you–it could cost both of you otherwise.

I think a half dozen sins is a good place to stop. I’m sure the list could go on and on, and given that it is me, on. I’ve confessed my sins (which I think is technically a Catholic term, which I’m also not) and now I’m going to do my best to atone. Though despite this gesture, the only beast I may continue to feed regularly is my pup Winston.

Bad Virgin, and other corporations behaving badly

If the BP oil spill has taught us anything, it’s that some corporations need to clear house with their internal PR and get their act(s) together. Okay, in BP’s case it taught us much more than that, but you get the point. A story this morning about a delayed Virgin Atlantic flight is further proof that, too often, corporate communication to the public misses the mark.

The flight was delayed on a tarmac for hours in Connecticut. The power kept going out leaving passengers in the dark, there was no food or water or cool air. There were screaming babies and screaming mad adults. Four passengers fainted and had to be taken off the plain by ambulance. What did Virgin have to say about this?

“Virgin Atlantic would like to thank passengers for their patience and apologize for any inconvenience caused,” a Virgin spokeswoman said.

Okay, I’m sorry, but are you F@#$(@& nuts? Your passengers, I’m sorry, YOUR CLIENTS, were hungry, hot, thirsty and sitting in the dark, and a few of them needed to be removed and put in an ambulance, and you want to apologize for any inconvenience that might have caused? That is one of the most tepid, lazy, indifferent, I-don’t-care-about-my-job-or-my-clients responses from a spokesperson I’ve heard since, well, BP last said something. Now, I don’t mean to equate people sitting on a tarmac for four hours with what has happened in the Gulf, but the lack of careful messaging behind both PR machines is just plain lazy and negligent.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of working hard to make sure that the messaging for my clients is perfect, or as perfect as can be, only to read comments like this from large corporations and realize that maybe I’m working too hard. Maybe I could have a job for a large corporation and make a ton of money and get by with really shoddy work, too. Then instead of blogging to you about marketing, I could blog to you about, well wait, I wouldn’t blog because obviously, I would be too lazy to blog.

I think Virgin Atlantic should have said something along the lines of, “We are appalled by what happened. We should have had adequate water and food for our passengers, if nothing else, and we should have done a better job of keeping them informed, even if it was to simply say that we don’t know what is going on, because obviously, we are clueless.” Okay, maybe they shouldn’t have said that last part, but I felt a tiny bit of humor needed to be injected into this story. I also think they should have added what they would do to entice these customers to come back in the future, because right now, as unappealing as the idea of flying United is, I’m thinking I’ll do that over Virgin Atlantic next time I need to fly.

In the future, when airlines are giving press statements, it would be nice if they replaced the word “passenger” with “client.” Same with doctors and their staff when referring to “Patients.” Government could do the same with “citizens.” We aren’t citizens,” we’re “clients.” Even “taxpayer” is too diluted. If someone helps pay your bills, they are either Daddy or they are your client. When clients are treated badly, they deserve an explanation.

Thanks Virgin, for proving that even Virgins can screw people, too.

A Quick Note On BP’s PR From a small person.

Like most small people, I tend be of the popular mindset that BP has done a really terrible job with their PR (and everything else) on the oil leak catastrophe. They have come across, too often, as glib and slow in all their media responses, not to mention unprepared. I mean, couldn’t someone have prepped Carl-Henric Svanberg even a little?

My cajun grandma always told me to look for the good in people, especially “son-of-a-bitches.” Her words. Not mine. I never said Grandma was a saint. Anyway, I saw this earlier, and while I have not read it over carefully yet, wanted to share. I was hoping that they would do this very thing: a web page with updates and hopefully a (more) sincere message. Like most of you, I’m keeping a close eye on the BP activity. With all the backlash and intense heat against them, I’m constantly curious to see how they handle not only the management of the resolution and clean-up, but the PR as well. They are a text book case study on so many levels.

That’s it for now. Small person signing off.