Redeeming an Offensive Tweet

Quick action by the KitchenAid brand manager turned an embarrassing tweet into a smart crisis response.It is hard to imagine a more embarrassing or insensitive tweet than the one posted by someone at KitchenAid during this week's presidential debate. And it would be hard to top the quick, firm and smart response by the person who manages the KitchenAid brand.

During comments by President Obama where he mentioned his grandmother, this appeared on the @KitchenAidUSA Twitter feed: "Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! 'She died 3 days b4 he became president'. #nbcpolitics"

As reported by Michael Sebastian of PR Daily, the tweet ignited an online firestorm — and a swift apology from Cynthia Soledad, head of the KitchenAid brand. She tweeted:

"I would like to personally apologize to President @BarackObama, his family and everyone on Twitter for the offensive tweet sent earlier. It was carelessly sent in error by a member of our Twitter team who, needless to say, won't be tweeting for us anymore. That said, I take full responsibility for my team. Thank you for hearing me out."

Soledad also tweeted individual media outlets that commented on the "offensive tweet," asking them for an off-line, on-the-record conversation about the incident.

Because the response was immediate and decisive, the damage was controlled. By today, there was a tweet on the KitchenAid Twitter feed about a faulty blender, not a smart-ass tweeter.

Another fundamental lesson is the need to supervise and train your Twitter team and make clear why they are tweeting. Individuals can say snarky things about politicians on Twitter, not companies. People don't follow KitchenAid or other brands to hear their political views.

When the crisis erupted, KitchenAid had someone in charge who knew what to do and did it. In doing so, Soledad may very well have enhanced KitchenAid's reputation by turning an embarrassment into a classy moment.