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Posted on August 15, 2012 ยท Posted in Social Media

As a followup from my previous post, I thought I would talk about Progressive’s response and the questions that it raises.

To sum it up, yesterday Matt Fisher posted a blog entry on Tumblr that claimed Progressive defended the person that killed his sister in a car accident to get out of paying the remaining balance on her policy. Reaction was swift and even Patton Oswalt got involved with a profanity laced tweet. Obviously this is a PR nightmare and sentiment analysis firm General Sentiment stated that the post generated 16,000 negative tweets in one day regarding Progressive Insurance.

Starting from yesterday, the first step next step the company took was they stopped tweeting to come up with a plan and they resumed acitivity around 18 hours later. This time their social media team was armed with a short statement from the claims manager that stated the company did not serve as defense counsel for other driver. But pay attention to the wording:

“To be very clear, Progressive did not serve as the attorney for the defendant in this case. He was defended by his insurance company, Nationwide.”

Notice how they use the wording “the” instead of “a” … this is minor but very important. What this alludes to is the idea of a group rather than an individual in which case the wording is factually correct that they were not the sole attorney but but their use of the word “a” can signify a group was involved in the defendant’s representation and that the mysterious “Jeffrey Moffet” was involved.

The company then used the statement as a way of responding to some of the more vocal critics and overall I give them a passing grade for this phase of crisis management. However failing to come out and fully deny any connection between Jeffrey Moffet and this particular case has only fueled a smaller, albeit secondary backlash that wants more answers.

Matt Fisher angrily responded to say that Progressive was flat out lying and it remains to be seen what develops on Day 3.

I liked their first move, having a single URL to direct any questions / concerns is always a good idea but not being fully transparent is really going to hurt them.

PS: I know I’ve been focusing on their Twitter so here’s some information on their Facebook account. Currently it is being overrun by people expressing outrage over the situation and is generally unchecked from what I can tell as far as removing really negative comments.