It's only their PR skills that died at Thorpe Park yesterday

15 April 2011

If you're a consumer-facing company, whether or not you bother with Twitter should be a no-brainer. Customers are able to discuss your brands and your products in public - they're may be praising them, but you can be sure they'll criticise them given the slightest provocation. So as a business, you have a choice; ignore the criticism and let it spread, or be part of the conversation to provide balance, support customers and correct mistruths.

Thorpe Park are on Twitter but their etiquette leaves a lot to be desired - to the point where they've been threatening teenage girls.

Avid Bitterwallet reader Kip got in touch with us about an incident that occurred yesterday. A Twitter user mentioned there had been a fatality on a ride at the theme park; the original tweet appears to have disappeared, but from the reaction of those involved, it doesn't appear to have been sent with any malice. They were simply repeating a rumour that turned out to be untrue, but not before several other Twitter users responded and forwarded on the message.

It's this repetition that caught the attention of Thorpe Park PR, who responded in typical knee-jerk reaction by sending a denial and veiled threat to anyone who mentioned it:

Bitterwallet - rumours of death at Thorpe Park on Twitter

Aside from Thorpe Park not being able to spell, the Twitter users they repeatedly menace for libelling them are teenagers; specifically fans of X Factor finalists One Direction. They're kids - presumably Thorpe Park's target market. That doesn't stop the theme park's PR team going on to harass another two teenage girls:

Bitterwallet - rumours of death at Thorpe Park on Twitter 2

You may think anyone claiming to be a fan of One Direction deserves the heavy-handed approach, but the fact is there were plenty of different ways Thorpe Park could have handled themselves instead of threatening teenagers. The PR people are right - it's not a rumour you want circulating unchallenged - but Twitter users usually prove to be their own checks and balances. A lighter approach reassuring people that no deaths had occurred would have easily quelled the rumours - senselessly shouting about libel over and over again is only going to cause further attention.

So back to where we came in. Engaging customers - and potential customers - on Twitter is easy enough to do. Doing it well, without menacing overtones of douchebaggery, is considerably harder.

TOPICS:   Social Media   Health

11 comments

  • Joff
    I thought Thorpe Park was just a poor relation to the superior Alton Towers.
  • StauntonLick
    @Joff Careful now, that could be construed as liable.
  • The M.
    Joff : This is a very serious accusation which can impact our reputation. Please can you contact us on [email protected]
  • Fox B.
    Thorpe Park have always been touchy about accidents since Jonathon White fell out a boat.
  • Darryl
    Row row row your boat, gently down the stream. If you see a crocodile, don't forget to scream! Responce, Thorpe Park "This is a very serious accusation, we don't have crocodiles in the water. This could seriously damage our reputation"
  • Idi A.
    Thorpe Park is a second-rate money pit round the back of a quarry, er, pit. It's only popular because it's near London and those chavs don't know any better. If it was anywhere else in the country, it would barely appear on the radar.
  • The M.
    Back in 2004, Tussauds pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health and safety of persons not in its employment. As well as the £65,000 fine, Judge John Crocker ordered Tussauds to pay £35,000 costs. Charges against two employees at Thorpe Park were dropped in January [2004] because they could not be defined as "managers". So the "management" can fuck off.
  • Grassy T.
    Are people getting the virus thats doing the rounds on Facebook confused with reality?
  • knob
    so people aren't really getting viruses on Facebook ?
  • callum
    Am I the only one who sees nothing wrong with what they've done (other than spelling of course). Saying it's libel is completely factual and isn't a "threat". A rumour spreading that someone had been killed in your theme park, as they said, could have a serious impact on their reputation.
  • Cheesey
    You have to wonder about the quality of personnel employed by Thorpe Park. Whenever I see someone misspelling "Libel" and using "Liable" instead, I think what a thick twat that person is.

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