UPS: Protecting your brand through social media — live from BlogWell

3:40 — Phil Nieman introduces Debbie Curtis-Magley, Manager, Corporate Public Relations at UPS.

3:42 — Debbie: I’m going to talk about protecting your reputation. This conversation centers around a labor law that was passed that affected FedEx, and that UPS was already following (Debbie shows a video of FedEx’s effort to target UPS).

3:45 — Debbie: So I had a really fun summer. This was an attack and they used provocative language. They said it was going to be the Armageddon and it was all UPS’s fault. They started They were on Twitter and YouTube talking about us.

3:48 – The public was buying into the conversation, but UPS was actively engaging and responding to what people had to say.

3:49 — UPS had been providing extra support on Twitter, and they needed to provide more information about the matter at hand.

3:51 — Debbie is showing a chart about monitoring conversation during July. It helps to show data to people in your company who are not communicators.

3:53 — Debbie: We conducted outreach through twitter, blogs, and discussion forums. We didn’t participate in every conversation – only the ones where we could add value.

3:54 — Debbie: We corrected misinformation or directed them to more cites with third party perspectives that could add value.

3:55 — Debbie is showing an example of how she chimed in when a political figure spoke out about the issue. She handled the conversation as if it were a reporter.

3:56 — When a conservative union spoke out and wasn’t interested in what Debbie had to say on behalf of UPS, she chose not to post it. Debbie wanted readers to be more informed about the issue.

3:57 — What UPS (and their small team) did not respond to:

  • A Politico story that had over 700 comments, where discussion was more about lobbying and congress and not about the issue at hand.
  • Another blogger talked about how brands shouldn’t use social media calling out FedEx. Debbie agreed, and did not need to chime in.
  • With Brown Cafe, an online discussion forum for UPS employees, Debbie felt she did not need to add a corporate perspective.

3:59 — 5 Tips for Social Media Defense:

  1. Start monitoring now.
  2. Build a credible online voice now.
  3. Train and empower your staff.
  4. Know when to respond and when not to.
  5. Issues can offer advantages (heightened awareness and heightened nervousness).

3:03 — Debbie: Tell upper management what you need in order to move forward with issues. While they aren’t fun opportunities, it is a chance to ask for what you need.


Q: How did you monitor change before and after your issue?

A: It didn’t. We had a good monitoring program in place over the past year. We had an understanding of what people were saying and when things percolated. Our monitoring team is divided among admin at UPS who have an assigned term to report, with quarterly reports on common themes. It just reinforced us being out there.

Q: How long did it take you to roll into action in terms of the issue?

A: We had a feeling that something was coming down the line. We had communication teams with messaging in place. We started getting online and responding right away with the truth.

Q: How did UPS respond to the employee who posted the letter on his blog?

A: We passed it along to our employee relations group because they would want to know about it. At times, there is a limit of what they can do in terms of discrete details. UPS reached out to the training teams as well.

Q: Did you use the tools to assess public opinion post attack?

A: This is the ultra-marathon of issues. This legislation is still in place. Our monitoring showing overall commentary has settled down from where it was at the start of the campaign.

Q: Of the metrics that you are monitoring, which ones have integrated into your marketing plans?

A: The information hasn’t really shifted our marketing and PR efforts, but it has shown the influence and power of these conversations and shows how UPS can best serve customers. We have generated enough reports that have internal interest at UPS from other groups about social media and responding.

Q: How did you measure success?

A: We look at success through individual conversations online and when people give second consideration to comments they have made and pass it along to their followers. Another telling factor is that commentary has dropped off, which shows the issue isn’t sustaining interest. It also has stress-tested our company tactics in managing within this channel.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Debbie Curtis-Magley

    I thought it would be helpful to clarify the opening statement in the transcript.The issue was over pending federal legislation on labor law that proposed FedEx Express fall under the same labor law applied to all other delivery companies. This legislation is still under consideration in Congress.

    Debbie Curtis-Magley
    UPS Public Relations


  1. What I learned at BlogWell Atlanta | Jimmy Gilmore - December 2, 2009

    […] there was a terrific UPS crisis management story. And I enjoyed hearing about Coca-Cola’s Expedition 206 […]

Featured Downloads

Download: “The Difference Map” by Bernadette Jiwa

We’re big fans of author of The Fortune Cookie Principle and TEDx speaker Bernadette Jiwa, who says that good marketing…

Read More

The first chapter of “The Social Media Side Door” by Ian Greenleigh

Ian reveals the best ways to earn the attention of influential people using social media channels.

Read More

9 Things to Share That Start Conversations

Use the examples in this guide to help inspire ways to make your message more portable and shareable.

Read More

3 Must-Use Word of Mouth Marketing Tools

These tools will help you kick off any word of mouth campaign no matter what topic, industry, or budget.

Read More

The Top Four Tips for Multiplying Your Word of Mouth

These tips can help you get your marketing to do more work without a lot of extra effort.

Read More

10 Ways to Turn Around Negative Word of Mouth

The most effective ways to stop negative WOM with examples from Zappos, FedEx, Dell, and more.

Read More
Get our free weekly newsletter

Join 35,000 brilliant word of mouth marketers by signing up for our free weekly email newsletter filled with actionable word of mouth ideas.

You’ll be blown away by just how good you can be at this.

Never display this again