How a Raccoon Captured Our Hearts and How a Bank Botched the Greatest Social Media Opportunity of 2018

The MPR Raccoon Incident is a Case Study in What Not to do on Social Media

Raccoons – They are either problem-causing trash pandas or cute cuddly creatures. In the case of the MPR Raccoon it was the latter. If you haven’t heard, last night, a wild raccoon climbed up a 25-story office building in St. Paul, Minnesota. The animal received the nickname MPR Raccoon after the local public radio station MPR.

The world was fascinated. Time and news stopped as we ignored the the Singapore Summit and focused on this poor little critter. The raccoon found herself unsure whether to continue climbing up or start her descent back down the building. This only added to the public’s concern. Many of us watched the raccoon’s progress via live camera feeds on Twitter. Every time she climbed up or down a floor the world held its breath as she moved from one ledge to another taking time to rest along the way.

People working in the building first spotted the climbing raccoon and posted their videos and photos on social media, particularly Twitter – which was going crazy over #MPRRaccoon. Would she make it to the top? Why doesn’t she climb back down? How can we rescue her? These were some of the questions being asked. But really we were all thinking, “please don’t fall!”

The building is known as UBS Plaza as it has a large prominent UBS logo on it. UBS is a Swiss-based Investment Bank and is a tenant of the building which is managed by Crescent Investment Group.  I tell you this because UBS became the face of this event. People were reaching out to UBS over social media to get updates of what was happening and to ask what was being done to to rescue the animal.


Whether that was fair or not, UBS was in the centre of it. The company was being asked questions it couldn’t possibly have answers to.

Some of the proposed solutions on Twitter were breaking a window to let the raccoon in the building, sending in a drone to deliver food and water or lowering food/water on a rope via the roof.

People pleaded to UBS for answers but were met with silence.

So how should UBS have handled this situation? Let’s dive in.

Monitor What’s Being Said About You
First, someone should’ve been monitoring Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels for mentions, posts and messages directed at the brand. The person or department that handles the monitoring should also be empowered to respond on behalf of the company. UBS is a large organization, so they no doubt have this in place but failed to react in a timely manner.

Hire a Social Media Manager
Second, they should have hired a local social media manager. Having a qualified onsite social media manager who could update the company’s social media channels in real time would’ve gone a long way. People were looking for reassurance, updates and even just a simple company comment. They got nothing when they needed it most.

Manage Perception
The company should have clarified that as a tenant in the building they had little say in the rescue process but were lending all the support and resources they could.

Lemons to Lemonade
This could have been a great opportunity for UBS. All eyes were on this creature that was virtually stuck on this building. You could see the UBS logo in just about every exterior photo or video that was posted on social media. It was a chance to show a human side of their business, to empathize with the public and display leadership and compassion. They could have led the way with updates by working with local authorities and the media. They could have set up a live camera feed. Instead they did nothing. They had a golden opportunity. The world was watching and they failed to react. Not good.

The big takeaway here is that, as the saying goes, “80 percent of success is just showing up.” Show up in times of crisis, controversy and other urgent incidents. Even if there’s little you can do to affect an outcome at the very least SHOW UP. Come from a place of authentic caring and kindness and be sure to offer solutions and assistance.

So maybe you don’t have a cute raccoon trying to scale a skyscraper that bares your company’s name. But even if you are a small business you should be prepared to handle a social media emergency. Do you have processes and procedures in place to react to situations like this? Are you social media-savvy enough to handle the spotlight, media inquiries and complaints from the public?

What are your thoughts on how UBS handled the situation? Please comment below.

And if you are wondering, the raccoon made it to the roof safe and sound. She was fed and returned to the wild.



Scott Trites is a Social Media Consultant and Owner of Knockout Social Media

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