How Intel averted a social media firestorm: Listen, then respond—quickly

©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.

The global giant explains how its social media team deals with controversies that could turn expensive if ignored.

ragan.com, 3/8/11

Several years ago, Intel ran an ad that illustrated the speed of its microprocessors with a picture of a bosslike figure standing with crossed arms over a bunch of half-naked sprinters bent double in a racing stance.

Tiny problem. The guy in charge was white; the sprinters were all black. And, well, it kind of looked like they were all bowing to the white man.

The ad quickly drew fire on the Internet. African-American bloggers denounced it, and Gawker mused, “Intel Ad: Stupid? Or Stupid And Racist?”

“There was discussion of picketing our headquarters in Santa Clara,” Intel’s Rick Reed said at Ragan’s Social Media for PR & Corporate Communicators conference in Las Vegas. “Tremendous potential for this to go sideways really quickly.”

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