Saturday, November 30, 2013

ReedPOP’s PR Snafu - Using Attendee Twitter Accounts to Post Tweets Praising New York Comic-Con (NYCC)

Recently, the New York Comic-Con (NYCC) took place in the Javits Center. It’s a convention dedicated to comic books, movies, TV shows and video games.

Event organizer ReedPOP wanted prevent entrance using counterfeit badges and monitor the visitor flow. That’s why NYCC opted for visitor badges with radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips inside. Since RFID chips use radio frequencies to transfer information between the chip and a receiver, NYCC could learn where visitors spent their time at the event, as well as how long they stayed at NYCC. Needless to say, this kind of information is essential for evaluating the event’s success.

Attendees were invited to link their badges to their social media accounts. ReedPOP came up with the following clever enticement:

“Your registration number can easily be found on the reverse side of your NYCC 2013 badge. Enter the code printed on the back of your badge into the space above and press Register Me. […] Your NYCC experience is about 100x cooler! For realz (sic). Plus, when you’re done registering our friends at comiXology want to give you 50 free digital comics. You heard us right, 5-0! Kick-ass!”

Any attendee who would not sign up, would not be eligible to receive a replacement badge in case of loss. So far, so good….But what happened then, not so much! The social media accounts of fans, celebrities and press attending New York Comic Con were used to send tweets and Facebook posts telling the world how great NYCC was. The problem was that the tweets and posts were not sent out without their permission or knowledge of the account owners! The published tweets and posts looked authentic, being written in conversational language. Kudos to the copywriter at ReedPOP!

Popular Mashable published the story which quickly went viral. As damage control the powers at ReedPOP / NYCC announced:

As you may have seen yesterday, there were some posts to Twitter and Facebook issued by New York Comic Con on behalf of attendees after RFID badges were registered. This was an opt-in function after signing in, but we were probably too enthusiastic in our messaging and eagerness to spread the good word about NYCC. We have since shut down this service completely and apologize for any perceived overstep. Please accept our apologies and have an absolutely excellent time this weekend. -Your friends at NYCC

This case illustrates how careful companies and entities must be when leveraging social media.

My advice:
  • Be transparent
  • Be honest
  • Be accountable

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