Marketing Pilgrim's Reputation Channel

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The Underlying Problem with KitchenAid’s Disgusting Dead Grandma Tweet

Like many of you, I watched the Presidential debate last night. And, like many of you, heard about the incident that led to a rather disgusting tweet being sent out from the KitchenAid Twitter account.

In case you have no clue as to what I am talking about, check out this recap and then come back.

Hopefully, we are at the point where we all see the obvious online reputation issue here. In fact, most pundits are focusing on the simple fact that KitchenAid should be more careful about who they let use there Twitter account. Clearly, an employee (or contractor) forgot to sign out of the KitchenAid account–and into their personal Twitter account–before sending that tweet.

But, here’s the bigger reputation issue at hand.

What in the world is KitchenAid doing hiring someone that has the capacity to tweet such a thing? Think about it! This person thought they were tweeting this to their personal account–as if that was somehow OK to do!!! I don’t care if the tweet was sent from the KitchenAid account or not, the fact that it was sent at all, is what bothers me–and should bother you.

I know we talk a lot about the privacy of those we employ–heaven forbid we start prying on our employee’s personal social media accounts–but, within the realms of the law, we should know what our employees are saying, liking, posting, and tweeting! The line between a corporate reputation and personal reputation is blurred. Those “these tweets do not represent my employer” disclaimers are as worthless as prefacing some hateful defamation with “In my humble opinion…”

KitchenAid has handled the fallout about as best they can. They’ve apologized, explained what happened, and apparently fired the offending employee. That’s damage limitation, crisis communication, reactive reputation management.

The evolution for KitchenAid, and for us, is to do a better job of screening, educating, and training everyone that works at the company.

And the loftier reputation goal? Let’s stop being asshats on the internet, then we don’t have to worry about these things!