As Published Today In Chain Store Age at:

http://www.chainstoreage.com/GuestCommentaries_Archive.aspx?id=155395

New media lessons from the Gap logo fiasco

The Gap recently learned the painful lesson of today’s new media world: It is fast and furious. Following consumer outcry in social media channels, the brand reversed its proposed logo change. Many questions arise from this: Did this $3 billion dollar corporation spend the same time on their brand as they would changing a supply chain element? Did the corporation review and test the logo enough to not change it back simply on a whim? Many unanswered questions will harm the brand, regardless of their move back to the original logo.

One wonders, did Gap underestimate the immediacy of social media impact, and fail to understand that today, everyone has a voice, and everyone is counted. Today’s media tools mean brands must become accustomed to a rolling press conference, and just as they need to manage reporters, so too must they manage online social media elements. The days of breaking an exclusive with one outlet are well behind us.

Social media today is open forum for questions to be asked, and issues to be raised, and clearly speaking, they did. Did the ad executives (both on the agency and in-house side) speak to any actual consumers? People will always comment on the new and Gap should have recognized and proactively managed that process online. Will retailer now go in and comment on every single criticism of blog posts that exists?

In a brand’s shelf life, it is vital to make milestone “stops” along the path and consider strategies, requiring budget, effort and C-suite attention. Such milestones should include periodic research efforts, focus groups, Q-sort research, case studies and surveys — diverse manners to analyze and evaluate campaigns and PR plans. The input you receive through these initiatives is invaluable and can sometimes set the divide between a successful campaign and total failure. Social media today is vital for brands to interact with consumers and to listen to consumers.

Brands today with the proper tools in place have even figured out how to generate sales from social media. But one wonders, without tools in place, do brands such as the Gap even know if it’s their consumer they are talking to online?

Perhaps the lesson can be that Gap feared its new logo would lead to drastically reduced sales as Tropicana experienced a few years ago, or maybe the lesson is the speed: What took 2 months only a few years ago, takes a week now.

Gap isn’t the first company to deal with the online social media crisis, and they won’t be the last. The question is: Will other brands react, pay more attention, and contribute more time and money to the arena, and not make similar mistakes?

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Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations, one of the largest independently-owned PR firms in the United States. With over 20 years of experience crafting and executing powerful narratives, Torossian is one of America's most prolific and well-respected Public Relations professionals. Since founding 5WPR in 2003, he has led the company's growth, overseeing more than 175 professionals in the company's headquarters in midtown Manhattan. With clients spanning corporate, technology, consumer and crisis, in addition to digital marketing and public affairs capabilities, 5WPR is regularly recognized as an industry leader and has been named "PR Agency of the Year" by the American Business Awards on multiple occasions. Throughout his career, Torossian has worked with some of the world's most visible companies, brands and organizations. His strategic, resourceful approach has been recognized with numerous awards including being named the Stevie American Business Awards 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year, the American Business Awards PR Executive of the Year, twice over, an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year semi-finalist, Metropolitan Magazine's Most Influential New Yorker, and a 2020 Top Crisis Communications Professional by Business Insider. Torossian is known as one of the country's foremost experts on crisis communications, and is called on to counsel blue chip companies, top business executives and entrepreneurs both in the United States and worldwide. Torossian has lectured on crisis PR at Harvard Business School, appears regularly on CNN & CNBC, was named to PR Week's "40 under Forty" list, is a contributing columnist for Forbes and the New York Observer, and his book, "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results With Game-Changing Public Relations" is an industry best-seller. A NYC native, Torossian lives in Manhattan with his children. He is a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and active in numerous charities.