There’s been no shortage of news in the past couple of days, much of it relating to messaging, brands and crisis management. It’s difficult to know where to start, though it’s hard to ignore the messaging that emanated from the ousting of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Other interesting messages and lessons came from Tillerson’s deputy, the SEC, United and Uber’s Bozoma Saint John.
Eleven months after its disastrous handling of an incident in which a passenger was violently dragged off of a flight, United Airlines is once again in hot water due to a dog’s death. But unlike its tone-deaf response last year, in which it vigorously defended its employees and blamed the victim, United has accepted full responsibility, shown support for the victim and said it is investigating its employee’s actions.
When Delta joined a growing list of companies rescinding discounts for NRA members, it did so by proclaiming its neutrality. And when FedEx decided to keep its NRA discount in place, the brand also attempted to stay neutral. But both quickly found that when it comes to an issue as controversial as gun control, brands can’t have it both ways.
There’s an old courtroom expression: “Never ask a question if you don’t know the answer.” But after last night’s CNN town hall debate about gun control—when survivors of last week’s Parkland, Fla. school shooting met with Sen. Marco Rubio, Parkland Rep. Ted Deutsch, Broward County sheriff Scott Israel and National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch—perhaps a new version of that quote is in order: “Never answer a question without first reading the room.”
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has had a rough week. On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated published a bombshell investigation that detailed a culture of sexual harassment among the Mavericks’ corporate culture for the better part of a decade. The report seemed to catch Cuban—and the Mavericks organization—off guard, highlighting the need for all organizations to engage in crisis planning. And it’s yet another example of how all brands need to be prepared for allegations of this nature in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
KFC ran out of chicken in Britain earlier this week, closing over half of its 900 U.K. locations Monday in a move that will likely keep some stores closed throughout the week. But KFC got out ahead of the issue and practiced the tried and true “acknowledge, align, assure” mantra—a go-to blueprint for brands needing to engage in efficient, actionable conflict resolution.
“Honestly, I’m here to talk about the Olympics, not gossip,” gold medal winner Shaun White said in response to a reporter’s inconvenient question about a sexual harassment accusation that eventually was settled out of court. But reporters aren’t paid to stick to a star’s script, usually—the Olympic champion knows that now.
It’s not often we get a close-up look at how communicators handle crises. Brad Ross, executive director of communications for Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), takes us through a difficult week, day by day. In the end, TTC feels that being honest and transparent and apologizing will re-build the reputation hits it absorbs after a difficult week on the rails. It might take a little bit of time, though.
Comedian/actor Jim Carrey has begun a campaign to dump Facebook due to the company’s profiting off fake news and ads it sold to Russian agents during the U.S. presidential election. Part of Carrey’s beef is that Facebook still isn’t doing enough to stop it. He’s removed his Facebook page, given up his Facebook shares and urges concerned investors to do the same. Should Facebook consider Carrey’s actions a crisis or a bad day?
A day after experiencing the biggest one-day point drop in its history, the Dow Jones Industrial Average continues its wild ride—and investor relations pros are likely working overtime to minimize the damage. So, how should communicators calm jittery stakeholders? We asked five communicators who specialize in investor relations and crisis communications how they’re approaching messaging during today’s stock market crisis.