As sports retailer Lorna Jane’s employee woes roll on, in this opinion piece Nicole Reaney, brand expert and director of InsideOut PR, says the whole affair is yet another example of why brands should build a loyal army via social media…
Lorna Jane has found herself in the public domain once again, with another ex-employee revealing her negative experience to the Courier Mail, saying she was used by the organisation. The employee also commented on the founder’s Sunday night’s 60 Minutes interview, “And that’s where I call bullshit and claim “crocodile tears”.
The company’s social media operator immediately published the company’s response to the article, stating it was not given the opportunity to respond to the media and using the social platform to communicate its viewpoint.
Unfortunately as companies grow and particularly successful retail companies with a national footprint and a demographic of heavy social users, they become easy targets for public backlash, and one negative story or experience can trigger more people to voice their side.
A common frustration by companies is also the lack of control of a story being published or aired in media without their opportunity to comment. The Lorna Jane team rightly used its own power in social media to take a little control back in the brand messages being received by the public.
While I would commend the team for using the platform to share their side, they need to ensure that their tone and messaging is not too defensive or passive aggressive. They are a positive brand and they want their voice to align with the brand’s culture. Even if a company disagrees with what’s been presented to the public, there’s a way to voice your messages in a more humble, succinct way, where consumers see the genuine side of the company. Managed carefully you can even turn around what was initially a negative impact to your brand, to it becoming more popular with loyal customers banding to support the organisation. That’s where social self-regulation occurs and the public become your brand ambassadors. Much more powerful than a company projecting it’s messages solely.
The Lorna Jane brand has a strong, positive following and is a strong positive brand. However I’d caution the organisation, they just need to be careful that they don’t start to build pockets of ‘hate-communities’.