On July 16, 2009, the Washington Post published a business story headlined “Once Trendy Crocs Could Be on Their Last Legs.” The story characterized the footwear as a fad, suggesting a company on the brink of disaster. Within hours, the Post article prompted national and global media coverage. Katie Couric reported on Crocs on “CBS Evening News” and her blog. NBC’s “Today Show” and ABC’s “Good Morning America” both covered the story. How should Crocs respond to an onslaught of media reports questioning its survival?
Many companies in this situation might simply fire off an angry letter to the editor. Linhart PR recommended a different approach: leverage the passion of Crocs fans by responding on the Crocs blog and social media channels. Within hours, then-CEO John Duerden posted an acknowledgement of Crocs’ challenges while noting that Crocs offers more than 120 different footwear styles loved by 100 million consumers in 125 countries. He thanked Crocs’ loyal customers, retailers, investors and employees for their support.
Crocs fans flocked to the company’s defense. Links to Duerden’s blog post quickly spread across the web. Crocs fans shared their feelings on the “Today Show” site, prompting the program’s social media manager to respond: “You have a lot of fans on Twitter. A lot of tweets about our story this morning.” Highlighting the brand’s roots as a boating shoe, Crocs also launched an online sale with the cheeky headline “Staying Afloat Is In Our DNA” and experienced its largest online sales day to-date. A Newsweek columnist, who previously wrote a satirical attack on Crocs, issued “a formal retraction of my stinging manifesto.” A Washington, D.C.-based blogger summarized Crocs’ response in a post titled “What Crocs, Inc., Knows About PR That You Don’t.” Stocks rose, and during Crocs’ earnings call, CEO Duerden quoted Mark Twain saying “rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated,” as the company reported better-than-expected results.