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Catherine Deveny wrote a column about the abuse she has recently received after criticising ANZAC Day. Apparently she was booked into The Grand Hotel in Mildura while she was in that town to deliver a speech. The hotel decided to cancel her booking because they thought she was bad for their brand. However Deveny’s fans have created a huge backlash on the hotel’s Facebook page. Here’s a snapshot, in case they delete the comments:

Gran Hotel Mildura vs Catherine Deveny

This is just a smattering of a mountain of negative comments on the page. Of course, if they had let Deveny stay there, they might have received an equal or greater amount of negative comments from people on the other side of the fence. It might feel like a lose-lose scenario for the hotel. However, the decision they made has not only garnered them criticism from Deveny’s camp, but it’s also opened them up to criticism for making the strange decision to censor their guests. They have exposed themselves as being against freedom of speech. It’s hard to understand why any intelligent business person would decide their brand would benefit from that association.

The story has not only been tweeted by Deveny to her 25,000 followers, it’s also been retweeted by PZ Myers to his 133,000 followers.

What can we learn from this exercise?

  1. When thinking about your decisions affecting your brand, make sure you weight up the potential damage done by a backlash.
  2. Have a crisis strategy in place. As of writing this post, I can’t see any damage control being done on their Facebook page. Perhaps they are still reeling. Perhaps they haven’t noticed yet. Either way, a good marketing strategy incorporates constant listening to what your customers are saying to you and a strategy for quickly taking control of a crisis situation.
  3. Don’t piss off Catherine Deveny.

by Cameron Reilly