Sean Hannity fans called for a boycott of Keurig products and destroyed their Keurig coffee pod machines. The hashtags #BoycottKeurig and #IStandWithHannity emerged on Twitter as a result on Nov. 12. (Gina Marie Bourdeaux/Twitter)

Ring up any social-media expert, and you’ll get the same advice: Engage with people on Twitter and Facebook and etc.

Over the weekend, Keurig Green Mountain, that mainstay of water-cooler proximity, did just that. As the embedded tweet below indicates, the company responded to Angelo Carusone of Media Matters, a fellow steeped in the art of kicking out the advertising legs from certain Fox News programming.

This was big news: In response to Keurig’s statement, various fans of Sean Hannity’s show expressed themselves on the same platform:

Hannity appreciated the support:

The next step: An email from Keurig Chief Executive Bob Gamgort to colleagues addresses the situation, and sort of lays blame … well, you be the judge:

The catalyst for the current situation was commentary made by Sean Hannity on his TV and radio programs last week, which sparked a significant number of consumer complaints directed to us as advertisers on his TV program. Hannity himself later apologized for his comments in his own tweet: “As I said on TV tonight, I apologize when I misspoke and was not totally clear earlier today.”

In most situations such as this one, we would “pause” our advertising on that particular program and reevaluate our go-forward strategy at a later date. That represents a prudent “business as usual” decision for us, as the protection of our brand is our foremost concern. However, the decision to publicly communicate our programming decision via our Twitter account was highly unusual. This gave the appearance of “taking sides” in an emotionally charged debate that escalated on Twitter and beyond over the weekend, which was not our intent.


Sean Hannity of Fox News. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

I want you to know the decision to communicate our short-term media actions on Twitter was done outside of company protocols. Clearly, this is an unacceptable situation that requires an overhaul of our issues response and external communications policies and the introduction of safeguards to ensure this never happens again. Our company and brand reputations are too valuable to be put at risk in this manner.

One insightful social-media expert noted:

The message from Keurig: Don’t be too transparent.

Here is the full memo from Gamgort:

Dear Keurig Team Members,

You are likely aware that Keurig became the focus of some media attention over the weekend related to a tweet issued from our official Twitter account on Friday. The tweet announced the withdrawal of advertising from “Hannity” in response to comments made on his program last week that were viewed as controversial by many of our consumers. This is to provide you with full transparency on the situation, our lessons learned and our path forward.

Like most consumer-oriented companies, Keurig’s media purchases are driven by delivery of ratings for our target consumer audience. We also have a defined set of programming guidelines to ensure we deliver our advertising in the right programming environment and protect our brand from objectionable content.

The fact is, our consumer demographics match well with live news programming, which is why we advertise on nearly all cable news channels, ranging from MSNBC to Fox to CNN, all of which will continue. However, given the dynamic nature of news, we always need to evaluate that programming environment on a real-time basis.

The catalyst for the current situation was commentary made by Sean Hannity on his TV and radio programs last week, which sparked a significant number of consumer complaints directed to us as advertisers on his TV program. Hannity himself later apologized for his comments in his own tweet: “As I said on TV tonight, I apologize when I misspoke and was not totally clear earlier today.”

In most situations such as this one, we would “pause” our advertising on that particular program and reevaluate our go-forward strategy at a later date. That represents a prudent “business as usual” decision for us, as the protection of our brand is our foremost concern. However, the decision to publicly communicate our programming decision via our Twitter account was highly unusual. This gave the appearance of “taking sides” in an emotionally charged debate that escalated on Twitter and beyond over the weekend, which was not our intent.

I want you to know the decision to communicate our short-term media actions on Twitter was done outside of company protocols. Clearly, this is an unacceptable situation that requires an overhaul of our issues response and external communications policies and the introduction of safeguards to ensure this never happens again. Our company and brand reputations are too valuable to be put at risk in this manner.

The nature of social media and the internet news environment is that stories like this explode, and generally do not disappear quickly. Given the circumstances, we wanted to reach out and communicate with you directly so you understood our position and the protocols we have in place.

I apologize for any negativity that you have experienced as a result of this situation and assure you that we will learn and improve going forward. As we all know, the external environment is changing rapidly. We need to dial-up our speed and responsiveness to stay ahead of these developments and we will.

Sincerely,
Bob

BOB GAMGORT
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

As The Post's media critic, Erik Wemple frequently skewers Fox News, and, well, some of the conservative network's loyal viewers have something to say about it. (Gillian Brockell,Kate Woodsome/The Washington Post)