By: Chelsea Williams
Just how important is Social Media PR in 2016? Can companies get by without it? Read how one of the most revolutionary makeup companies of the decade became the most hated one.
Lime Crime, a cosmetic company based out of Los Angeles, was founded by owner Doe Deere in 2008; but they didn’t get their big break until late 2014/early 2015 when they launched the first ever vegan liquid to matte lipstick to hit the market – BIG deal. ‘Velvetines’ as they are called, TOTALLY blew up all over social media, no company had yet made a product quite like this before and social media Beauty Guru’s jumped ALL OVER the Velvetines. Left and right, leaders were dedicating videos to reviewing and demoing the product for their followers, and because of those videos, millions of consumers from all over the world were fighting to get their hands on a Velvetine. But the success was short lived. In January of 2015, tragedy struck the company with scandal after scandal.
First, it came to light that Lime Crime’s products might possible not be genuinely vegan and may actually contain harmful chemicals. People had chemical and allergic reactions to the lipstick. The next thing that happened was that people alleged that Lime Crime’s products were repackaged from Chinese manufactures, and sold as their own – deceiving the consumer and making huge profits from doing so. As if the integrity of your product being questioned is not bad enough press for a company’s reputation, near the end of February, Lime Crime’s entire security system was breached, and thousands of consumers fell victim to identity theft and fraud. Just as fast as those powerful social media Beauty Guru’s had posted positive reviews about Lime Crime & the Velveltines, they began posting videos encouraging followers to boycott the company altogether.
Even though Lime Crime had a revolutionary product that sold like hotcakes upon release, their reputation was severely damaged.
After studying PR in college for the past four years, I have come to believe that there is no scandal/crisis that can’t be remedied or at least made better – as long as your PR team is good at what they do! Most scandals that ruin reputations are due to the PR team not managing the crisis properly by making the right decisions – not because the crisis was beyond repair.
And this is what happened with Lime Crime. Following this series of crises, many customers turned to the comment section of their Instagram to express personal dissatisfaction with the company because the customer service operators were so rude and insensitive to their issues that they felt they had no where else to go – this is where Lime Crime FIRST went wrong. A company should provide customer service that puts the customer’s feelings and concerns first, and provide the best remedy that they can possible offer. On top of having a terrible customer service center, the owner of Lime Crime – Doe Deere – began to respond to customers with hateful, rude comments, such as this reply to a customer:
Most PR professionals would advice against calling your customers “dumbass[es]” – and if Deere didn’t respond with nasty comments, she would simply delete the comment all together. Lime Crime also did not release a press statement for months following the security breach, leaving customers in the dark, and missing money. Lime Crime did not permanently ruin their company’s reputation because the integrity of their products quality was questioned, or because they experienced a security breach – these things happen ALL the time with companies and are easily remedied – the reason Lime Crime permanently damaged their reputation and made the ‘Velvetine’ campaign a complete and utter social fail, is because they did not make their consumer a priority. If Deere had hired proper PR professionals instead of running her mouth and spewing hateful comments towards the very people that were putting money in her pocket, Lime Crime could still be successful today!
So, can a company do the DIY PR thing, and still be successful? Sure, if your company is perfect and has no chance of experience any sort of crisis. When you consider the dark side of what publicist do: crisis management – there is very little chance that a company will be able to repair their reputation or image without a strong PR team; so if you want to avoid a social fail like Lime Crime’s, then you most definitely need to hire a strong PR team – even in 2016.
Want More Information? Check out the following sites:
1. A. (n.d.). Lime Crime: Beneath The Glitter. |Lipsticks & Lightsabers. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.lipsticksandlightsabers.com/2010/01/lime-crime-beneath-glitter.html
2. Make Up Company Founder Fails to Inform Customers of Issues. (2015). Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://thebannercsi.com/2015/05/05/make-up-company-founder-fails-to-inform-customers-of-issues/
3. Chapman, G. (n.d.). Lime Crime & The Scary Truth About Product Safety. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.refinery29.com/2015/08/93130/lime-crime-lipsticks-illegal-additives-fda-approval
4. M. (2014). Are you still unaware of the lime crime controversy? – My Pink Fairy. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://www.mypinkfairy.com/still-unaware-lime-crime-controversy/
5. Dries, K. (2015, February 19). Lime Crime’s Website Is Hacked, Customer Information Stolen. Retrieved February 15, 2016, from http://jezebel.com/lime-crimes-website-is-hacked-customer-information-sto-1686744501