Shitstorm describes the massive and public criticism of a company, a product or a public person that is usually carried out in social networks and subsequently virally disseminated. The phenomenon is usually triggered by an initial criticism, justified or not, that subsequently loses its objectivity and factual accuracy and becomes increasingly aggressive and /or abusive.
The excitement is often soon forgotten. However, the target of the attack can help resolve the conflict at an early stage. Quick and efficient communication help appease the storm faster. Sitting it out and PR phrases usually have the opposite effect. It is essential that the criticism be taken seriously and dealt with.
If a company wants to use the creativity of the crowd for its product development, it must provide clear rules that guarantee transparency from the very start. Pril and its design contest for a limited edition bottle are a warning example. Pril unleashed a storm of protest after it removed initially eligible but seemingly unsuitable designs, and deleted all the user votes and finally sharpened the rules of the contest. Negative comments piled up on Facebook and Twitter. Pril reacted by censoring the comments instead of engaging in an open discussion. The company made practically every mistake possible and created their own sustainable PR disaster.
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