Fewer reasons to shop at Morrisons?

Not exactly poppy-ular Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA

Right, now I’ve managed to shoehorn the “less v fewer” issue into a blog on PR, let’s have a quick look at the furore which has raged over this episode.

To summarise, a Morrisons manager was reported on social media by a customer, after suggesting an elderly poppy seller (an 89 year-old veteran) should “wear a warmer coat” rather than stand inside the supermarket chain’s Taunton branch.

The rather insensitive comment was bad enough but when the reason given was there was no room due to other merchandise promotions it really was crass and fanned the flames. It was made worse when the customer in question turned out to be a former member of the Women’s Royal Air Force, who understandably took to social media instantly.

The post went viral online and very soon the national press was involved.

Morrisons have today issued an apology admitting the comment was “exceptionally inappropriate” and explaining that the first poppy collector prior to the veteran had asked to be based outside due to footfall. It seems that the manager was not aware of this – quick tip, maybe a course in language skills, empathy and customer service might help here Morrisons?

It doesn’t excuse the dismissive language of the manager but it perhaps explains the situation and then the unfolding of events of what quickly snowballed into a PR nightmare. However, a swifter response on social media by the supermarket giant might have been more useful, considering that was where the debate was swirling.

A spokesman for The Royal British Legion said: “Our collectors will continue to be on site in Morrisons in Taunton until the end of the Poppy Appeal.”

So…no harm done? Doubtful.

Know your audience, know where they are and manage via that medium. Get ALL parties involved ASAP and get the story straight.