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Myer fumbles response to social media storm

Paul Smith (via AFR) | May 2, 2013
Myer’s attempts to minimise the social media fallout resulting from chief executive Bernie Brookes’ controversial national disability insurance scheme levy comments fell flat on Thursday.

Myer had made key mistakes, she said.

"Myer has tried to manage the fallout, but haven't really done it well. One thing I always tell companies is never to do the half-assed apology. The half-assed apology, which starts with "if we have offended anyone," never goes down well. Of course you have upset people or you wouldn't be apologising," Ms Papworth said.

"If you are going to apologise then you grovel, you must be incredibly sorry and say you are doing everything you can to make it right - being half-assed is not an option."

Ms Papworth said Mr Brookes would be learning the hard way about the power of social media, but lamented the fact that other CEOs were sticking their heads in the sand when it came to properly understanding social media.


She said many CEOs were trained in media relations, but stayed away from social networks themselves and therefore had no idea how controversy could take hold.

"Every time a CEO thinks they are talking to a room of people, such as investors, shareholders, business journalists and their peers, what they haven't realised is that the consumer is now in the room as well," Ms Papworth said.

"Whether it is Bernie Brookes today or the Qantas CEO a while ago telling a business meeting that he doesn't care about the leisure or family market, they are ignorant of the impact their statements will have once they are on social media. Unless CEOs get on Twitter and use it, they will never understand how it works and how powerful it has become."

Myer shares closed down 2.3 per cent on Thursday in a generally lower retail sector and amid concerns that the online controversy could build into a real-world boycott of stores.


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