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posted by janrinok on Monday March 30 2015, @05:43PM   Printer-friendly
from the Pete-Seeger-singing-"when-will-they-ever-learn?-when-will-they-ever-learn?" dept.

Alison Griswold writes that in an effort to improve its tanking image, SeaWorld launched a new advertising campaign this week to educate the public about its “leadership in the care of killer whales” and other work to protect whales in captivity and in the wild. As part of that head-on initiative, someone at SeaWorld decided to invite Twitter users to pose their questions to the company directly using the hashtag #AskSeaWorld. That was not a good idea as twitter users bashed Sea World relentlessly. "As easy as it is to make fun of SeaWorld here, the real question is why any company still thinks hosting an open Twitter forum could be good for public relations," writes Griswold. "So maybe SeaWorld’s social and PR folks just really have no idea what they’re doing. Even so, you’d think they’d have learned from the corporate failures before them."

Let’s review some of the times this has backfired, starting with the infamous McDonald’s #McDStories Twitter campaign of January 2012. Rather than prompting customers to share their heart-warming McDonald’s anecdotes, the hashtag gave critics a highly visible forum to share their top McDonald’s horror stories. MacDonalds pulled the campaign within two hours but they discovered that crowd-sourced campaigns are hard to control. Three years later the #McDStories hashtag is still gathering comments. "Twitter Q&As are a terrible idea.," concludes Griswold. "A well-meaning hashtag gives critics an easy way to assemble and voice their complaints in a public forum. Why companies still try them is a great mystery. Maybe they’ll all finally learn from SeaWorld and give this one horrible PR trick up for good."

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Thexalon on Monday March 30 2015, @11:13PM

    by Thexalon (636) on Monday March 30 2015, @11:13PM (#164548)

    How many people bashing Sea World have actually been to Sea World?

    The guy who has been leading the latest round of anti-Sea World efforts used to work at Sea World as a trainer. He was nearly killed by a whale, even though he was doing everything he was supposed to do to protect himself. He was motivated by the case of another trainer who was killed by a whale, even though she was doing everything she was supposed to do to protect herself, and that Sea World management basically blamed it on the dead trainer (probably for lawsuit, insurance, and OSHA purposes).

    How many of those understand Sea World's contribution to science, research, and even care and rescue of marine life?

    1. Approximately 0.0006% [] of Sea World's revenue goes towards conservation and rescue efforts.
    2. Sea World has put in a total of about $1 million [] annually into research and science, accounting for approximately 2% of their annual profits. According to the linked article, it looks like most of that money has gone towards research aimed at showing that locking up orcas isn't bad for them.

    So yes, I think there are some legitimate concerns that Sea World is failing to address, and the fraction of their revenue that goes to science, research, care, and rescue does not absolve their sins.

    Alcohol makes the world go round ... and round and round.
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