- Employees represent your company; when they act badly, it reflects on you.
- A video can go viral in a matter of hours and do serious damage to your brand’s reputation.
- When handling bad publicity, act quickly to take corrective measures and control the narrative before it becomes a disaster.
- This article is for business leaders interested in learning to handle negative viral videos – and anyone who likes reading about company mishaps.
As consumers gravitate toward video content, it has quickly earned its way into many marketing strategies across the world. Wyzowl found that 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool and 92% of marketers value video as an important part of their marketing strategy in 2022. Although strategic video content can have a positive impact on your organization, the opposite can be said when a video posted online depicts your brand in an unflattering light.
A viral video can build up a brand in hours – and knock it down even faster. The same tool that can create priceless free publicity can easily become a double-edged sword, and plenty of companies in recent years have seen the downside of online videos.
Viral videos gone wrong
Although there are many reasons why your brand might fall victim to a bad viral video, employees are often at the center of that. Here are some recent viral videos gone wrong.
As a major retailer with almost 1.5 million employees across the globe, it’s no surprise that Amazon has been responsible for misbehaved employees on more than one occasion. For example, one Amazon worker assaulted a woman, and another driver was caught creepily breathing on a customer’s window and writing a note in the condensation.
Perhaps the most salacious of recent occurrences caught on camera was last fall, when a blonde woman in a black minidress was seen slipping out the back of an Amazon delivery vehicle in Florida. A recording of the event was posted on TikTok and quickly amassed 1.4 million likes, more than 32,000 comments and 158,000 shares.
There was much speculation over what actually happened between the woman and the driver inside the vehicle, but regardless, Amazon fired the driver for the scandalous drop-off.
“This does not reflect the high standards we have for our Delivery Service Partners and their drivers,” a rep for the company told TMZ. “Allowing unauthorized passengers to enter delivery vehicles is a violation of Amazon policy, and the driver is no longer delivering packages to Amazon customers.”
Amazon isn’t the only delivery service with messy employees. A DoorDash driver in Brentwood, California, was caught on a security camera making a mess in the lobby of a customer’s apartment building.
Lisa Stanley, the building manager and the person who ordered the DoorDash delivery, received word from a neighbor about feces in her apartment lobby, and she promptly checked the surveillance footage to see what happened.
The Dasher was seen delivering a bag of food and then promptly using a trash receptacle in the lobby as a toilet. Feces were left on the ground and the rim of the trash can.
Stanley confronted DoorDash with the messy truth, and they responded with assurances that they were investigating the matter and the Dasher was no longer with the company. They also refunded Stanley for the food and tip and provided her with an additional $20 credit.
Stanley had to hire a hazmat team to sanitize the mess, and when she tried to contact DoorDash for reimbursement for the cleaning fee, she received a generic response. Only after she posted the video to social media and gained the attention of news stations did DoorDash eventually agree to pay for the cleanup cost.
DoorDash also released a statement: “The trust and safety of our community is extremely important, and what’s shown in this video is absolutely unacceptable and disturbing. We’re deactivating this Dasher and are actively working to be in touch with building staff so we can reimburse for the cleaning costs. We will also cooperate with law enforcement on any investigation.”
Big Sky Pet Resort
In a local pet boarding facility in Billings, Montana, one employee was caught kicking and hitting some of the boarded dogs. Another former employee caught the atrocious behavior on camera and told KULR-8 that she turned the video in to the police the following day.
Soon after, the owners of the facility saw the video and fired the abusive employee. When questioned, they made a statement to KULR-8 that they do not tolerate the abuse of animals in their care.
In case you were wondering (and we know you were), the dogs are OK.
FedEx quickly saw how one bad apple can spoil the bunch when one of its delivery drivers was caught on security camera literally dropping off a package.
In the midst of a busy holiday season, the shipping giant’s image took a big hit when a 20-second video went viral, showing one of its deliverymen carelessly tossing a package – with a computer monitor inside – over the fence of a California home. The video was even more damning with its description, which read, “The sad part is that I was home at the time with the front door wide open. All he would have had to do was ring the bell on the gate.”
In less than a day, the video was seen by millions, prompting FedEx to defend itself through a series of blogs and online videos of its own.
“We are also going to build this into our training programs as a constant reminder of the importance of earning – and keeping – your trust with every single delivery,” wrote FedEx Senior Vice President Matthew Thornton in his blog. “We hope that you, like the customer involved in this incident, will see it as an unfortunate exception that proves the rule that our company cares for its customers.”
A sticky situation was caught on camera when a customer was waiting in line for his order at Tim Hortons and witnessed an employee glazing donuts with her bare fingers. When the customer asked another employee about the unsanitary situation, they told him that it wasn’t unusual.
Still uneasy about what he had seen, the customer sent the video to blogTO. The video was posted online and soon went viral.
A Tim Hortons representative told blogTO that the behavior was certainly not normal: “The procedure in the video is clearly not part of our operating standards. We reached out to the restaurant owner immediately to make sure proper procedures are being followed.”
What to do if your company has a negative viral video
If you find your business in the unfortunate position where an employee’s misdeeds are caught on camera and shared online, it’s time for damage control. Ignoring the video will not make it go away; in fact, it will likely make matters worse.
Here are the main steps you should take if you have this type of bad publicity:
- Respond quickly. Negative attention, especially on social media, can spread like wildfire. You want to respond to the event before it spirals out of control.
- Send out a sincere apology. Be prompt, polite and genuine in your apology. Your employees represent your brand, so you should apologize to your customers if an employee does something wrong.
- Correct the problem. Do everything in your power to correct the problem as quickly as possible. Be courteous and understanding to those affected by the employee, and resolve the issue at hand. This will show that you care about your customers and want to retain their loyalty.
If you remedy these situations as they happen, a video might not even go up in the first place. For example, the DoorDash video may not have been posted online if the company had promptly reimbursed the customer for the cleanup cost.
One of the best ways to handle a negative situation is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Educate your employees on acceptable behaviors, lead by example, and enforce your policies fairly. You should also check in with your employees to ensure they have everything they need to do the job well, as employees may be more likely to lash out if they are overworked and burned out.
Chad Brooks contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.