Nov 292010

Anyone  interested in watching what could well turn into a PR disaster may like to take a look at Hamleys Facebook page – Why?

Well Hamleys are having live Reindeer and Penguins in store at what must be one of the busiest times of the year and the Animal Welfare groups are not happy. They claim the environment these wild animals will find themselves in, surrounded by throngs of shoppers and the travel through central London to reach the store will cause them unnecessary stress, they are also concerned about the message of combining animals with toys sends out. Personally I can see their point how long have we heard the slogan “A dog is for life not just for Christmas”.

The question is how will Hamleys use their social networking and the Internet skills? Have they worked out that social networking in business is a two way street?  Not only do you get to tell your customers, clients what’s happening, raise your on-line profile and  hope to reach potential new customers and clients. Its is also a way for those customers and potential customers to make their feelings about your business known to you and when they do maybe just maybe you should listen.

If enough people are creating enough negative noise via social media about Hamleys Christmas PR stunt they could find what began a snowball rolling down hill becomes and avalanche by the time hits them and by that time its too late,  all there is left to do is damage control, silly really when acting earlier may have sent the message “we listen and we care what people think”.

The Born free blog say of the event which started today, Monday 29th of November and finishes on Friday the 3rd of December.

“Born Free Foundation, the UK wild animal welfare charity, is shocked to learn that Hamleys, the world-famous London toy shop, is planning an event featuring live penguins and reindeer in store. Our message to Hamleys? Please don’t do it”

In a very unscientific test I ran the search “hamleys” through my Twitter account turning up over 50 tweets posted within the space of an hour and almost all of which were negative. When combined with the  Comments on Hamleys Facebook  it looks like this could go viral. If that happens and it draws draw the attention of the mainstream press then that is when you may well see that  PR disaster avalanche hit Hamleys fair and square, leaving them with more to clean up than just Reindeer and Penguin Poo.