No one started their day this past Wednesday meaning to spill 60,000 pounds of Busch beer onto a Florida highway. That's exactly what happened but no one was hurt and, other than the obvious loss of product and a citation for careless driving, the incident caused little damage.
Thanks to all of those who have reached out to comfort the Busch family in our time of need. A terrible tragedy. https://t.co/yZ3lmtyhrG-- Busch Beer (@BuschBeer) March 7, 2018
They included a link to the mountain of broken boxes of beer with cans spilling out.local news station's coverage, which showed images of a
Followers responded to the tweet in droves, and Busch parried every one.
Actions speak louder than words.-- Busch Beer (@BuschBeer) March 7, 2018
Gone too soon...-- Busch Beer (@BuschBeer) March 7, 2018
May they rest in peace.-- Busch Beer (@BuschBeer) March 7, 2018
And it goes on and on.
Here are three things that Busch's social media team did right that are damage-control lessons for all of us.
Keep Some Perspective
It was an unfortunate event, yes, and a mistake that cost the company a truckload (literally) of product. But no one was hurt, first and foremost. This was an accident, not a crisis. It was a short-term failure that was also an opportunity to contribute to longer-term success. It was a good time, in other words, to zoom out and see the bigger picture.
Keep Your Sense of Humor, Thoughtfully
The bigger picture here invited jokes, puns and satire. A major beer company spilling 60,000 pounds of beer onto the side of a highway in Okaloosa County, Florida? Come on. Still, humor can be tricky if not handled well. This particular situation, moreover, involved alcohol and driving, which could have invited exactly the wrong kind of commentary.
Busch responded quickly and appropriately. Appropriate humor is, in fact, one of the key guidelines outlined by Stanford professor Jennifer Aaker and lecturer Naomi Bagdonas, who teach a course about humor in business. Benefits of leaders with a sense of humor delivered with appropriate context and timing include the ability to build stronger cultures, unleash more creativity, and negotiate better deals. In addition, research shows that cultures who incorporate humor are more resilient as an organization: humor, particularly at stressful moments, releases oxytocin, which facilitates social bonding and increases trust. (A lot like having a beer with a friend after work.)
Keep the Facts Straight
No one was hurt in the incident, which was caused when the driver (44 year old Michael Nolan Powell of South Carolina) veered from his lane while driving his tractor trailer along Interstate 10 in Florida. By linking to their coverage of the event, Busch let the local news station report the story, which lends credibility to these facts.
In addition to the photographs from the scene, the news station's report also referenced a Facebook post by the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office -- a credible source who themselves poked fun at the event. "A semi carrying Busch beer spilled its cargo after a wreck on I-10 Westbound at the Holt Exit (exit 45)," the post read. "Thankfully only minor injuries which were treated on scene but the beer didn't fare so well."
The post was shared more than 1300 times and, though the comments question a factual error of the weight of the truck, Busch is distanced twice over (by the news station and the Sheriff's Office) from fault as a result of that particular debate.