The public apology is dead. Long live the indignant counterattack. Thanks to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, public figures and corporate chieftains who find themselves on the receiving end of scrutiny by media or other actors may no longer need to recite painfully scripted statements with stoic spouses standing by their sides. They just need to fight back.
A wrap-up of the week’s top PR stories, trends and personnel announcements. This week’s edition includes stories about Wells Fargo and its ousted CEO John Stumpf, EpiPen maker Mylan agreeing to pay a fine for underpaying on rebates to government medical authorities and Bisquick’s tone-deaf Twitter comments.
Samsung officially stopped production on its Galaxy Note7 smartphones on Oct. 11, following an earlier recall of the product and months of increasing scrutiny from the media, its customers and investors for a malfunction that caused the phones to dangerously overheat. Here are three ways the electronics giant has executed its crisis messaging amidst the allegations facing it.
At the heart of the crisis management response to an outraged community is the apology itself. An apology should have three parts: Say you are sorry; express sympathy for specific victims, real or perceived; and accept responsibility. Donald Trump has just had an opportunity to put that theory into action.
In terms of the rules of crisis communications, Wells Fargo and Samsung have been following all of them, although sometimes they’ve moved slowly. Still, both brands issued apologies, took action, offered compensation—and nothing has worked. The problem in these cases is that no amount of abject apologies can make up for a lack of ethics and an overabundance of bad choices. In other words, both brands primarily are facing crises of culture, not communications.
Chicago joined several cities and states across the country in halting business with Wells Fargo. In response to the decision, Wells Fargo released a statement that highlighted the good the company does in the community. Will focusing on the money it put back into the city do enough to stem the negativity surrounding the brand?
Yahoo Inc. announced on its official Tumblr and Twitter accounts that it had confirmed a hack from late 2014 that copied information, including account passwords, security questions and answers, from 500 million user accounts. The announcement comes after a challenging several months for the tech giant, which Verizon agreed to acquire in July 2016 for $4.8 billion.
In the many months since its E. coli outbreak and the subsequent cleanup, Chipotle has made several attempts to rebuild trust in the brand. The release of the short video, “A Love Story,” did little to divert attention away from E. coli. Not even free burritos could bring the masses back into its restaurants. The new campaign meets customers’ fears head-on, a smart move that might have appeared bolder had it launched sooner.
You saw the headlines Sept. 8 and 9 discussing the record payment of $185 million Wells Fargo made to regulators. The basic details surrounding the reason for this fine also are well known: Some 5,300 bank employees allegedly created an estimated 2 million bogus bank and credit card accounts. Some were started with fake names. Others used identities and funds of unsuspecting Wells Fargo customers. The 5,300 employees were fired during the past five years, the bank said. How can the bank rebound from this hit to its reputation? We asked a specialist in crisis PR and one in reputation management. Both stressed honesty, transparency and accountability.