PR Disaster

What the heck was that all about? - Online Reputation Management fails most people won’t forget

PR Disasters

Regardless of how unfair a customer’s review, you shouldn't hit the "post" button when you're mad. It's human nature to retaliate when we're angry, but once something is out there on the Internet, you can't take it back. Here’s some history of some ORM fails that will not be forgotten easily. There’s even one that backfired because they were too quiet!


Case Study #1: Crab Got Out Of The Bag


Crab Got Out Of The BagThe founder of a seafood eatery decided to win back a customer who had left a 2-star review (which cannot be hidden or deleted) on its social media profile.

The customer had commented that she was unhappy with the portion of food she paid for and expressed that she would not be going back.

What followed was a series of passive-aggressive posts from the founder, that garnered a lot of attention from many with a penchant for drama.

It escalated when the founder suggested running CCTV checks on how much the customer ate. (Cue: popcorn grabbing moments).
Things got a little awkward when he also suggested he has mutual friends with the customer, and the customer’s employer.

Obviously, a lot of people did not think this was appropriate. Many began commenting on the poor service recovery attempt and began proclaiming a boycott on the restaurant they hadn’t even visited before.

Credits: Mothership





Case Study #2: S'could Have Been Better

A popular budget airline carrier in Singapore suffered online backlash from some pissed off customers who didn’t appreciate half-baked wit.

It’s famously common for budget carriers to cut cost and provide no-frills service, therefore most people wouldn’t expect too much from add-ons like their in-flight meals. One passenger, however, felt otherwise.

She had ordered Nasi Lemak. But felt that the end product did not look like what was advertised.

Fairly common problem consumers face every day. Most of us don’t think much of it. And in reality, only one person commented following the disgruntled post.

Then the custodian of the social media profile had to reply with a smart-alecky comment. And boom! Over 1,000 comments and a lot of attention followed the post.

 S'could Have Been Better

Credits: Mothership

People started taking sides and generally more were unhappy that the airline showed little remorse and effort to address the feedback about the food quality.


Credits: Facebook

case-study-2- defense-positive.jpg

Pitch-Fork Bearers

Credits: Facebook

case-study-2- defense-neg.jpg

Now this phenomenon of companies seemingly being sarcastic, or combative towards complaints is not necessarily new. Wendy’s (burger joint that has since closed down in Singapore) got famous for roasting a customer who was obviously taking a free jab at them. It worked because it wasn’t snide, but smart. It didn’t offend the customer outright. It merely pointed out the flaw in his/her argument. And the matter was put to rest.

case study 2a.jpgCredits: Twitter


Case Study #3: Silent Treatment Backfires too


case study 3b.jpgA poorly produced promotion video of a couple visiting Singapore to celebrate a joyous moment turned sour.

The video was uploaded on two social media profiles and then later taken down when negative comments about the bad taste and illogical flow started flooding in.

Things got worst when they also decided to take down the video from the other profile they had originally posted in.

Make something scarce and naturally, that will make people curious to know what the fuss is about. The action of taking down content from both sources piqued netizen’s interest even more and catapulted the viral status of the bad promo video.

The real pity here is that the content had actually produced some positive response from its target audience. But no one ever knew it till much later and for the content producer, it was a MISSED OPPORTUNITY to engage all the attention it was getting.

When so many people were curious about a piece of content, it would be an excellent opportunity to engage them. Keeping silent implied that the producer was not proud of their content and decided to hide instead.


So many things can go wrong when trying to manage your online reputation. Even when you think you are doing the right thing by defending your business or saying nothing at all, it is not clear cut if it will save your online reputation.

Go Private

One advice we will give is you are probably going to find customers leaving comments, reviews and site content that you just don't agree with. For times like these, it's important that you bite your tongue and not leave any nasty comments in an open forum -- as they may come back to haunt you later on, or even make your reputation seem worse!

Go Professional

There are certain things that you should do on your own, like reaching out to a one-off bad review with a well-thought out message to speak privately. However, if your online reputation management efforts are not enough to protect or restore your brand image, you have the option to request help from a reputation management firm.


Request For Report


About Dinesh Sivapragsam