Friday, January 28, 2011

Even More Sunshine

This is a quick update. I'm certain that there will be much more to write about after the weekend.

First, if you haven't read the story, see the first part here: Social Media Fail. Then read the second part here: More Sunshine.

Today there are some updates. If you are following the what-actually-happened story, the Metro News reports that the dismissed employees have filed a lawsuit.

But that's not a discussion for this blog. We are here to discuss how it's being handled from a social media point-of-view. And what is happening with discussions online.

And the big news here is that yesterday the Facebook page disappeared.
They probably had no choice. Scathing comments had spiraled out of control and it had reached a point of no return. So gone is the Facebook page. This leaves Sunshine Village without much of a voice in the social media and online discussions.

So what are those discussions? This is important to explore, because it demonstrates what can happen online when issues go south.

There are now several ski/mountain related forums discussing this issue - one of the threads is now 20 pages long. Posters from as far away as UK are chiming in, and the general sentiment of the posts are against Sunshine Village. A new Facebook page has been started in support of the (allegedly) wronged ski patrol. A quick search of Twitter reveals dozens of negative comments. Various review sites (such as Yelp) now have fresh negative comments and reviews, with low ratings for Sunshine Village.

Unfortunately for Sunshine Village, this entire event makes a good social-media case study.

I'll have more to post next week. In the meantime, we will see how this unfolds.


  1. It's funny; they just don't get it.
    Check out Taylor Scurfield's facebook photo.
    There is the unofficial SSV facebook page which is full of criticism.
    The new public support page is also full of scathing criticism, and then there is the"secret" Facebook group, which when I joined on Tuesday had 40 members and now has over 1000.

  2. Here is yet another link set up after Sunshine thought hey could somehow in this day and age quash debate on this PR disaster. By "killing" there own FB page, they have only exacerbated an already bad situation.

    Interesting, as the internet has of course, affected the flow of information even more significantly that the printing press did so many centuries ago! Sunshine can now write the "book" (since they think they can control the WWW) on how not to handle PR issue.

  3. Firby once headlined (last season) on Powdermag's website that Delirium DAVE is open for the season. He was of course referring to "Delirium DIVE" or trying to.

    This embarrasing screw-up is still there for all to see....

    Needless to say, most staff at Sunshine have a low opinion of his on-going gaffs and his general literary incompetence.

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  5. The Public Fan page has over 1000 members in less than 48 hours. All pro. It has been viewed by close to 50,000. The staff look like they have a Social Media PR win on their side!

  6. At one point Taylor Scurfield had a graphic on his Facebook page that said "Wassup Haters?" Shows how PR handlers can't control even what their own side is saying online, although when it's your boss' (the owner's son) doing the nasty online, what are you going to do? Tell him to shut his kid up? Especially when another employee was just "allegedly" fired for doing his job and telling the kid to obey the ski hill rules? An interesting twist in all this is that the law suit filed by the fired employees lists the son of WestJet founder Clive Beddoe as one of Taylor Scurfield's companions that was caught skiing in a closed area. If the Beddoe name gets dragged through the mud, we could have two rich families with competing approaches trying to take control of the story. Hilarity could ensue as two egos clash.

  7. Steve,

    I would love to see an update on what your thoughts are. I (personally) believe that Social Media while very important is completely overblown on how it helps or hurts businesses. Case and point. Sunshine Village, despite all the venom and hatred towards it has one of it's best weekends ever for a January at 5000+ skiers per day. This despite the cold temperatures and poor road conditions. It is now becoming a belief within the management team to remain quiet as "most of the people making an issue are former staff who will grow bored and move on to another topic within a weeks time".

    BP caused the worst natural disaster in our life time and people on Social media called for the boycott of all of it's products and services. It's stock dropped all the way to $26.00 a share and people said the company was doomed. Today it is trading at $47.86 and appears to have a bright future ahead.

    I feel terrible for Sunshine Village's employees who were let go, especially as it appears the facts about Taylor's' involvement are 99% true. That said, will these people who are so outraged really avoid skiing there when Sunshine has 40+cms of news snow and opened Delirium Dive again because they have joined together on Facebook? I don't believe they will. I do, however, hope I'm wrong about the impact Social Media plays and allows the customer to truly have a voice.

  8. I am fairly vocal on the Support Patrol Facebook page.
    I will ski Sunshine again, after these people have been compensated, Ralph is forced to sell the ski area,ski patrol is back up to full ranks and are treated with respect.
    Until then, I'll ski the Lake, Kicking Horse, Norquay or I'll just tour.
    No Sunshine for me for a while.

  9. Social media is a tool, not a strategy. It's clear that Sunshine has no marketing or crisis communications strategy, and no idea how to use social media or traditional media to deal with the current situation. It's brand has been damaged, as has the "Scurfield" brand in general and the personal brands of Ralph Sr, Ralph Jr and Taylor. Even Taylor's sister Kendra and her "White Gold" banner ad on the Sunshine website has been noted on message boards, so her brand is being damaged even though she has no known role in the current fiasco.

  10. Seems to be pretty low for Taylor's sister who was uninvolved to be maliciously attacked as well. Seems like there may be a counter suit maybe some defamation of character. Its a grey area of the law for the ex employees to name Taylor in the suit as well as talk to the media before the corporation. Just shows that they are afraid they will lose in court, and are trying a desperate smear campaign in order to force Ralph into a settlement outside of court to shut them up.

    Interesting to see how it will play out, and what will happen to Taylor and Kendra's brand if he is found innocent in the trial. Also how long will people even remember? Likely in a few years he will go to the bar and the bouncer will look at the id and ask "Do I know you? Your name seems familiar but I can't place it." The whole world has ADD and people are not going to remember this for too long.