DIRECTV & Joplin, MO – a lesson in Managing the Message

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On June 1st, 2011, a Facebook page called PrayfortheTornadoVictimsofApril2011 posted this message (where the actual first message appeared is unclear):
Within hours, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and others had repeated the message.  A Facebook page popped up: Boycott Direct TV for Charging Joplin Customers $500
  and Twitter users continued to spread the message (you may view them here and here:; not the type of viral marketing any company wants to see.

Some speculate that the official policy of DIRECTV was not well communicated to all internal staff in a timely manner, and perhaps a CSR delivered incorrect information. (That’s a costly mistake).

Question:  Have you fully tested your company’s crisis communication plan company-wide?

To add confusion, DIRECTV spells its name with one “T”. Some social site users visited the wrong Twitter & Facebook accounts looking for answers, and the lack of answers on those pages further drove the rumor. Sadly however, many people see a message and hit share or retweet without any additional investigation.

Directv’s Twitter account is Here and they have responded, as well as via their Customer service Account Here, and via their official Facebook Page HERE
Why did so few people visit DirectV’s webpage to find the “real” answer?

It doesn’t matter why; the fact is they didn’t and probably won’t in the next, similar social flame that could be about YOUR company.

It’s important that any company “get” that.

The Lesson>You must be in front of the rumor and you must control the message. You must monitor and respond reasonably via all social accounts and other Communication Channels.

The “real” Policy of DirectV?

“We would first like to express our sincerest sympathy to the people of Joplin, MO., who lost loved ones and homes in the terrible storms that hit the state last month. We understand there has been some miscommunication regarding DIRECTV’s policy for customers affected by natural disasters and we are hoping this message will help to set the record straight. DIRECTV has historically had a policy in place to assist customers who are impacted by natural disasters, and we work with these customers to find a solution that best fits their needs. Options available include:

  • Account cancellation – If service cannot be restored at the customer’s home due to the damage from the storm, DIRECTV will cancel the account, and waive any fees associated with the inability to return equipment, along with any remaining agreement on the account.


  • Account suspension – For customers who are without power for an extended period, we offer to suspend their account until power and services can be restored.


  • No-cost service calls – If/once service can be restored at the customer’s home, we will send a technician at no-cost to ensure the dish is properly aligned and to fix any technical issues.


  • Equipment – For customers whose equipment was damaged in the storm, we offer to waive equipment replacement costs if they continue services with DIRECTV.


If you are a customer that has been affected, please contact 1-800-531-5000 so we can remedy your situation immediately.”

Additional information:

Need help with your company’s Social Media Policies? Just call Firestorm – (800) 321-2219

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