Hooters, the restaurant chain that is well known for their busty women-only staff, claims to have had their Facebook page hacked recently when a disgraceful joke about rape was posted to their timeline.
Now it’s quite possible that the account was hacked and I have no insider knowledge on whether or not it actually was. However, as offensive, provocative and questionable content is a regular part of the franchise’s marketing material, my immediate assumption was that claiming their Facebook page was hacked was an easy way out of a very stupid joke. However, I’m not here to argue whether or not the account was truly hacked, or whether they simply had a rogue employee who gave up their access or wanted to play an inappropriate “joke”.
What I would like to point out is something that my colleague Chris Syme, principal of CKSyme Media Group, wrote to me in an email on the subject:
And this is absolutely the raw truth.
Too many organizations seem to think it’s OK to make a mistake and then claim they were hacked these days. The truth is that not only does it not fool anybody, but when you do this, the jokes on you since doing something like this causes people to mistrust your organization – and in today’s trust economy, no company can afford mistrust.
So when a mistake is made, what should be done instead?
The reality is that nothing beats the truth. Even when you screw up. Having the guts to say “we made a thoughtless/careless/stupid mistake, we’re terribly sorry and it will never come close to happening again” makes you human (I’ll add that in some cases, yes, someone may need to be let go). It makes you honest. It makes you forgivable. Sure you may lose some fans, but hey, you screwed up! However, what you won’t lose is your credibility or your integrity.
Organizations put a lot of pressure on themselves when what they need to realize is that they’re made up of humans, humans make mistakes and the humans behind your brand are what connect you on an emotional level with your stakeholders. Lying to protect yourself is not a habit any organization should get into. The doubt of whether or not you lied alone can put a barrier between you and your most important audiences.
… And P.S. “If hacked means somebody internally gave away your password, then that’s not a hack.” – Chris Syme.
Author of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World, Melissa Agnes is a leading authority on crisis preparedness, reputation management, and brand protection. Agnes is a coveted keynote speaker, commentator, and advisor to some of today’s leading organizations faced with the greatest risks. Learn more about Melissa and her work here.