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Case Study: How Twitter Helped Save Ford From a PR Disaster

by Kimberly Smith  |  
February 3, 2009
  |  1,659 views

Company: Ford Motor Company
Contact: Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford
Location: Dearborn, MI
Industry: Automotive
Annual revenue: $139,300,000,000
Number of employees: 224000

Quick Read

When US Airways flight 1549 landed in the Hudson River, Twitter users broke the news, 15 minutes ahead of mainstream media, according to UK's Telegraph.

The same channel and its immediacy also helped Ford Motor Company's head of social media quell a different kind of disaster—of the PR variety—in December 2008.

After a fan site received a formal letter from Ford demanding that the site's URL be relinquished, the owner posted news of the event on the site's user forum, launching a firestorm of criticism against Ford.


Scott Monty, who heads Ford's social media efforts and was the first to be informed of the fiasco, played a crucial role in resolving the situation, using Twitter as his main communication platform to help quell incendiary criticism within 24 hours.

Challenge

On the evening of December 9, 2008, the owner of The Ranger Station, an independent Ford fan site, posted a comment to the site's user forum announcing that he had received a cease-and-desist notification from Ford Motor Company that demanded he both surrender the site's URL and pay a $5,000 fine.


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Kimberly Smith is a staff writer for MarketingProfs. Reach her via kims@marketingprofs.com.

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Comments

  • by John White Tue Feb 3, 2009 via web

    This is a splendid story. If I were Ford, I'd repackage it with the title, "Why We Don't Need the Federal Bailout Money - We're Figuring Things Out On Our Own".

  • by patsy Tue Feb 3, 2009 via web

    I don't see "save this" at the bottom of this article. Am I missing something?

  • by Claudia Wed Feb 4, 2009 via web

    And where is Scott Monty's Twitter name???? Please!

  • by Ann Handley Wed Feb 4, 2009 via web

    Claudia -- Scott is @scottmonty on Twitter.

  • by Ken Williamson Wed Feb 4, 2009 via web

    Need a print version of this article. Please.

  • by Mandy Vavrinak Wed Feb 4, 2009 via web

    Thanks for sharing... this is just the type of info I need to make the case to some clients that investing some time and resources in the community that is social media makes sense... not to "push product" but to connect on a human-to-human level. Sometimes the human connection is what makes the buying decision.

  • by Mandy Vavrinak Wed Feb 4, 2009 via web

    Addendum to story... see how it continues... this is a brief Twitter convo from Feb 1st.:
    ---
    cristintx: Speaking of American autos... why did Ford have a #superad09 ?

    Scott Monty: @cristintx Because we didn't take any government money and it was one we already had in rotation #superads09

    Cristintx: @ScottMonty Duly noted. Thank you.
    ----
    And that quickly, someone moved from questioner/antagonist to understanding (at least publicly). Also important, I think, to note that at the time of this exchange, cristintx had less than 50 followers. Scott appears to be reaching out to all those who are talking about Ford, not just "influencers." That is what makes social media powerful. IMO.

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