Virgin to the rescue – the power of social
16 January 2015 by Marketing Team
The Virgin brand has a reputation for good marketing. It often comes in many forms such as a slick advertisement, a carefully planned PR campaign, the general persona of Richard Branson or ‘cool’ celebrity associations (we’re looking at you Mr Bolt). However for their latest bit of good PR they have a teenager from Lancaster to thank….
Adam Greenwood, a 16yr vlogger was travelling from Euston to Glasgow when he used the toilet on a Virgin train last month. After discovering a lack of toilet paper too late, he tweeted Virgin for a bit of help. Luckily for Adam, Virgin Trains were quickly on the case and arranged a new supply to be sent down… after what must have been a very awkward moment of peering out to obtain what carriage he was in!
As “MW” (who sent the tweets for Virgin) told the Daily Mail, Virgin’ helped Adam finish what he started’ and in doing so, got a very satisfied customer out of the deal and more.
Mr Greenwood may not have been expecting anything to come of his last ditch request, but in responding as quickly as they did, Virgin trains came out of this exchange looking like digital heroes… no small feat for a train company. The story was then picked up by nearly all the UK papers as well as news outlets as far away as Spain, America and New Zealand, all reporting Virgin Trains in a positive light.
This was all made possible by Virgin harnessing the power of social media. They were quick and they were engaging and those two things in themselves provide a great footing for success.
Importantly, they were also positive. In trying to keep the situation light-hearted and positive, the fact that their train was clearly understocked for paper was completely overlooked. What could potentially be seen as a negative, turned into an overwhelmingly positive situation.
Of course Virgin Trains aren’t the only organisation that have used social media expertly, especially in a crisis situation and there’s no better recent example than Greggs.
The high street baker found themselves at the centre of an online disaster in August last year when Google’s complex algorithms accidently led to a fake and offensive Greggs logo being displayed on the search giants pages. This then went viral and thousands were quick to point out the error, creating a situation which could very easily been a complete PR disaster.
However, the Greggs social media team saved the day. They engaged with customer tweets, even negative ones, with a consistent, light-hearted tone and tweeted Google with a picture of some donuts promising they were Googles if they sorted the problem quickly. Several funny tweets later and the problem was sorted – Greggs even arranged some freshly baked sausage rolls to spell out Google as a thank you.
These examples demonstrate the changing nature of PR. It is not just pre-planned one way campaigns that work now – It is two way communication, it’s reactive as much as proactive and sometimes reactive PR can be more powerful and more well received than any planned campaign could be.
By engaging with customers, making their experience personal, being positive and by realising the instantaneous nature of social media and its two way nature, opportunities are rife on social media – It’s a goldmine, not a minefield.
Just remember, next time you’re getting the train on a long journey somewhere, take Virgin trains advice to Mr Greenwood: “Maybe bring some loo roll…. just in case”.
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