Pelotonia deflects a “crisis”

Today is a special day. A highly anticipated day. A day that approximately 3000 [mostly Columbus] people have been dreaming of since August 2017.

Registration opens for Pelotonia 2018.

{Pelotonia is a grassroots bicycle tour that raises money for cancer research}

The date was revealed over a month ago, with email and social media reminders every one-two weeks to build up suspense.

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Then FINALLY today’s email graced my inbox at about 9:00 AM:

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At the 10:00 opening time, I followed the REGISTER link to Pelotonia’s website. Ah, the  intensity of the 10 year anniversary black-out branding captivated my retinas. I scrolled down and found “Rider Registration”. My heart was pounding with excitement. Click.

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WHAT?!

I repeated the steps approximately 180 times, tried different links and URLs and explored every imaginable loophole…but every time came to the same error message. I concluded that the site must be down. If it’s not working for me, then it’s probably not working for anyone, I told the voice of FOMO in my mind. Then, very shortly thereafter came another email:

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I’ll forgive you because I love you, Pelotonia.

That prompted me to check out Pelotonia’s social media.

 

This is a great, simple example of crisis communication. While this can be classified as a mini-crisis – if a crisis at all – Pelotonia’s PR team handled it remarkably well.

First, they took to social media right away (knowing they would reach a great portion of the audience quickly that way) to offer an update and infuse some humor into the malfunction. Social media is a unique animal. It was a good choice for Pelotonia to not apologize and instead opt for sarcasm. Bonus points for editing their Instagram story with a text overlay and finding a cool photo of the Ride to tack onto the Tweet.

Meanwhile, a new mass email (with a new graphic) was crafted and sent in under two hours. In this more traditional communication channel, the team included a genuine, but brief, apology. Email is more formal than social media, so an apology included with the update is likely to be appreciated by recipients.

Did this tech error cause any true damage or harm? No. However, if Pelotonia had simply fixed the website problem, reopened registration in a couple of hours and carried on without addressing it, it could have caused a flurry of confusion, frustration and “NOT WORKING” emails to their contact address.

Overall, this turbulence demonstrated the importance of catering to differing communication platforms and how a business can compensate for a minor issue by acting quickly with concise messaging. A responsive brand is a respected brand.

Now, off to register!


UPDATE:

It seems the website issue was bigger than expected, so there is more to say about this crisis situation.

At 12:00 PM, the new Registration opening time, searching Pelotonia.org or navigating to it via links only resulted in a Splash page – basically a cover page with minimal information and links – rather than the normal Pelotonia site. How did the org respond to this larger scale-snafu?

In a series of Tweets and one long post on Instagram and Facebook, Pelotonia gave a more in-depth update on the situation. The messages took extra care to express remorse and acknowledge the inconvenience, and made their value of the audience, i.e., the “Greatest Team Ever” abundantly clear. To maximize efficacy, Pelotonia included two additional components: 1) Explaining next steps – Registration is promised to officially open, flaw-free, next Monday and 2) Offering a reparation in the way of a merchandise discount.

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The original problem intensified, and again Pelotonia responded diplomatically. They recognized a need for more extensive messaging than prior and nailed it.

Seems to be working:

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Looks like loyalty to Pelotonia is not dwindling.

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