Anatomy of a Fail: News Channel Nine, Dancing With the Stars and Ferguson

News Channel Nine is an ABC news channel in Tennessee.  Last night, they became nationally known, and not for good reasons.  Here is an Anatomy of a Fail for what they did, and it was a doozy.

The Fail

On Monday night, the Ferguson indictment decision was announced.  Every network cut into their previously schedule broadcasting to air the decision.  At that point, the genius who ran News Channel Nine’s social media decided this was a good idea:

News Channel Nine Ferguson Fail

Was Ron Burgundy the producer?

The Reaction

Not good.  Not good:

The Response – The Good-ish

News Channel Nine launched into a series of apologies.  First, they sent out a generic apology:

https://twitter.com/newschannelnine/status/537068053482442752

They then deleted the tweet, and acknowledged the deletion (totally appropriate)

Then they started apologizing to people en mass, individually:

News Channel Nine Apologies

The Response: The Bad

Individualized apologies are a dicey business in a situation like this – DiGiorno tried it after their #WhyIStayed disaster and it went reasonably well, but you can screw this up pretty easily.

And that’s exactly where things went downhill for News Channel Nine.  First, they got lazy and began to copy and paste identical apologies:

News Channel Nine Same Apology

This, of course, defeats the purpose of individual apologies.

The Response: The Terrible

Responses started getting flippant.  First, they started replying with frowny faces:

News Channel Nine Smiley

Nothing says, “I understand the gravity of the situation” quite like a frowny face.

Then, MSNBC reporter Dave Weigel got in on the act:

News Channel Nine responded with something along the lines of, “Not you too ahh geez!”  I don’t have exactly what they said because they deleted the tweet, but I’ll get there.  Anyway, here’s where I jumped in and started yelling at them:

To my extreme disbelief, they responded by saying that they “were new” at Twitter.  I responded like this:

They didn’t respond from there.

At one point, it got so bad that they tried to blame an intern:

News Channel Nine Intern

The Deletions

Many of the tweets they sent out yesterday – including their tweets with me and Dave Weigel – have been deleted.  There was no note about that one.

The Verdict

The original fail was bad enough, but this was totally the wrong tone.  When you apologize, you do so with humility.  You don’t get cute.  You don’t use funny hashtags.  You don’t tweet things like “ahh geez” to Dave Weigel.  Doing so makes you seem insincere.  It was totally the wrong tone and a terrible way to act.

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments!

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