Sexism and Crisis Management

Erik Bernstein crisis communications, crisis management, Crisis Prevention, crisis public relations, Crisis Response, Erik Bernstein, Jonathan Bernstein, online reputation management, PR, public relations, reputation management, social media, Tony Jaques Leave a Comment

Avoid sexism in messaging, or find yourself knee-deep in crisis management

With the U.S. women’s rights movement approaching 165 years in action, one would expect organizations to assiduously avoid sexist comments in their communications.  Of course, if every organization did the right thing, then what fun would we have writing about it?

Sexism and crisis management was the topic of one of crisis management pro Tony Jaques’ latest Managing Outcomes newsletters, wherein he spoke with BCM president Jonathan Bernstein regarding a major Twitter faux paux perpetrated by computer company ASUS:

Sexism – or an allegation of sexism – has become an increasingly important reputation risk for individuals, politicians and corporations. And these claims sometimes arise from what US crisis expert Jonathan Bernstein has called “mind-blowingly unprofessional” acts.

That’s how Bernstein described a foolish twitter message posted by Taiwanese computer-maker ASUS to promote its new computer at a major tech fair. The tweet showed a photo from behind a young woman in a tight-fitting dress demonstrating the computer, and the message: “The rear looks pretty nice. So does the new transformer AIO?”

Really ASUS? Have we time traveled back to the 50’s and not noticed it yet? Of course the company tried to brush the post off as not its own, stating that “a number of third parties had access to our social media accounts during this period.”

Honestly even if that statement was true, it left the public to decide whether the organization is incredibly sexist or so outrageously incompetent that it didn’t have control of its own Twitter feed during a major event – not exactly an advantageous position crisis management-wise. Most people chose sexist, and ASUS’ social media feeds were hammered by posts from offended stakeholders of both sexes.

Will the sexist post be the end of ASUS? Not likely. The company is well known, very established and has experienced little in the way of controversy throughout its existence. The real danger lies in the potential for behavior like this to be repeated, and for the organization to acquire a negative reputation as a result. The computer industry, much like any other these days, is absolutely crammed with competition, and if you give people reason to turn away from your product or services then it could have serious ramifications on your bottom line.

The BCM Blogging Team

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