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GRC Professional : GRC Spring 2011
20 grc professional • Spring 2011 what not to do Those that fear the damaging effects of social media need only look as far as Nestlè and the company’s overly extreme reaction to a negative Greenpeace campaign. In 2010 Greenpeace produced a video that criticised Nestlè’s use of unsustainable palm oil in certain products. Nestlè persuaded YouTube to remove the video, which in itself created a social media protest. Greenpeace pressed on, gaining media coverage about Nestlè removing the video. Soon Nestlè was facing a social media storm. The company began deleting negative messages from social media pages - a serious no-no in social media land. Nestlè staff members responsible for communicating with the market via social media began posting irritable, nasty, childish responses to complaints against their brand’s heavy- handed social media policies. Anti-Nestlè campaigns blossomed on Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks. The storm became a tempest from which the company is still recovering in terms of public relations. Many communications experts reacted with disbelief at the awful judgement used all along the way by Nestlè’s social media team. While it demonstrated the danger of social media, the event also demonstrated social media’s power. After all, Greenpeace was thrilled with the result. “They’ve made it so easy for us,” Communicate Magazine reported Tracy Frauzel, Head of Digital Communications at Greenpeace, as saying. “Nestlè just don’t seem to have a good understanding as to what happens on the social space. ” telecom nz ACI member Willie Lewis, Corporate Counsel Compliance at Telecom NZ, spoke to GRC Professional about his organisation’s social media policy, which applies to approximately 10,000 staff and contractors. “We encourage our people to participate in social media, but try to make sure they're aware of risks associated with commenting on Telecom and Telco- related issues. Telecom is often in the media spotlight, and well-intentioned staff members commenting on Telecom may think their comment is helping, but mis- information or inconsistent messaging can sometimes do more harm than good,” Lewis says. “Even using a disclaimer like ‘views are my own, not those of my employer’, can be ineffective; the reality is that if you're identified as a Telecom employee online, whatever you say can be associated with the company or taken as an official viewpoint. “ T hat said, we use social media as a key channel for talking to customers and New Zealand’s online community in general, not to mention stakeholders from many spheres. We have an online response team, drawn from across the business, who are empowered to speak for Telecom online, be it on Twitter, Facebook or online forums. They also monitor the online community for potential Telecom issues bubbling under, and feed them back into the business. “T he key thing is getting the right people involved. Communications is a specialist area and carries potential risk people specifically speaking on Telecom’s behalf need to apply professional judgement; our online response team and media relations teams are always available to help and educate in this area.” even using a disclaimer like ‘views are my own, not those of my employer’, can be ineffective; the reality is that if you’re identified as a telecom employee online, whatever you say can be associated with the company or taken as an official viewpoint. WILLIE LEWIS Corporate Counsel Compliance, Telecom New Zealand
GRC Summer 2012