Social Media Crisis Averted: Renegade Employee’s YouTube Videos Revealed as Hoax
Challenge: Inland Pipe Rehabilitation, an experienced nationwide provider of trenchless repair and rehabilitation solutions for water, sewer, manhole and culvert applications, was faced with a social media crisis. A former employee began uploading a series of videos to YouTube depicting the dumping of liquid into a natural setting. Once uploaded to YouTube, the videos were then sent to the Environmental Protection Agency in an effort to discredit the company. Identity was retained to investigate the posting of the videos, confirm the identity of the individual who uploaded the videos and manage all crisis communication.
Solution: Identity began the crisis assessment by reviewing the videos and maintaining offline copies to limit increases in view counts. Simultaneously, the videos were reviewed in hopes of identifying the user in question by referencing the username against company records. Once the employee who uploaded the video was identified, Identity reviewed the individual’s public social profiles and determined how widely the content was being shared to audiences. Identity’s social team benchmarked the SEO components of each video. The poor grammar, lack of tags, incorrect titles and improper spelling made the videos unlikely to be found through common searches. Concurrently to the social media team’s efforts, Identity’s media relations team maintained ongoing dialogue with IPR and drafted response language on behalf of the brand.
Outcome: Due to the proactive efforts executed by Identity, all information relating to the employee, the videos in question, how they were shared and the nature of how they got online were known and documented ahead of any media response. Additionally, the messaging prepared by Identity’s media relations team became a critical piece of the program once a local NBC affiliate’s investigative reporting team looking to put together a story on the YouTube videos contacted IPR. By clearly explaining the issue and providing a transparent company statement, the news station’s reporters quickly understood the situation and ran a story focused on the rogue employee perpetrating a hoax. This was a major success attributable directly to the planning, documentation, strategy and full knowledge share made possible by Identity’s social listening and monitoring efforts. The fact that the only media hit on the issue was one that dispelled the videos as a hoax with a narrative of taking caution before believing something posted online is a clear, immediate success.