The growing support for Canberra company Seears Workwear may indicate that Australians are starting to reject social media outrage targeting businesses, according to a leading public relations and reputation management strategist.
Seears’ Facebook page has been inundated with positive reviews and comments after they refused to back down following media reports quoting a mother who accused them of telling her daughter to “get lost” when she phoned them to request they change a lyric in their ad from “boys” to “folks”, to be more gender inclusive.
Managing Director of Mercer PR, Lyall Mercer, said the “new normal” was for people to threaten companies with negative media exposure when they are unhappy or don’t agree with something about the business.
“Years ago people threatened to go to their lawyer; now they openly say they’ll go to the media or post on social media, with the intent to defame and hurt a business based purely on their opinion or experience.
“They hope others will jump on the outrage bandwagon without knowing the facts, and that if enough noise can be made, mainstream media will pick up the story.”
He said Seears’ response was different to many other companies in similar situations, which apologise for fear of further backlash.
“We live in a social media age so companies have to accept that, and there are times when a company has made a mistake and the best response is to apologise.
“But we’ve assisted many clients who have been attacked based on one person’s accusations, and people must remember that there is always another side to the story.”
Mr Mercer said businesses have closed down due to social media abuse, and many have received threats of physical violence.
“Most people who are supposedly outraged have no idea what it’s like to run a business and the financial risks involved,” he said.
“But the Seears response does show that public reaction may end up defending a company when targeted.”