SeaWorld Makes a Whale of a Crisis Management Mistake

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    The park’s PR team is sure to be blubbering after it’s revealed someone tried to tip the scales on an Orlando Business Journal poll

    The Orlando Business Journal has busted SeaWorld making a whale of a crisis management mistake – stacking an online poll that asks whether the “Blackfish” documentary has changed readers’ perception of the park!

    Reporter Richard Bilbao was surprised when 99% of voters said the film, which already created loads of PR headaches for SeaWorld, has had no impact on their perceptions and decided to investigate. Here, he shares the results of a simple IP trace:

    …imagine our surprise when we noticed that one single Internet Protocol Address (IP Address) accounted for more than 54 percent of the votes, or about 180 of the total 328 votes. IP Addresses are typically unique Internet identifiers given to a computer or series of devices — say a multi-computer network in your office.

    And who’s the owner of the domain name and company that address belong to? and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

    C’mon SeaWorld, ballot-stuffing? Is that the best you can do? Using underhanded methods only furthers the negative angle pushed by the creators of “Blackfish” – namely that SeaWorld is an uncaring, irresponsible organization.

    This story is still developing, and SeaWorld execs have promised Bilbao a response by the end of the day, most likely after a frenzied internal investigation. Of course, this could have been done by an overly zealous employee as opposed to anyone actually being ordered by the company, but to say SeaWorld’s got some ‘splaining to do is an understatement.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also the editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]