A look at the week that was in PR, including stories about: Wells Fargo’s troubles in Chicago and its attempt to return to the Windy City’s good graces.
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.
Wells Fargo became part of a club Sept. 9 that it had no interest in joining. For want of a better term, we’ll call it a crisis club, although the media and PR practitioners use that word too loosely when describing smaller issues and dilemmas. Full disclosure: The crisis club exists only as a conceptual construct. Sort of like the fake Wells Fargo accounts.
The question of Hillary Clinton’s health has dogged her campaign for president well before she quickly left a ceremony in New York on Sept. 11 that honored the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. Republican candidate Donald Trump has tweeted consistently that Clinton lacks the strength and stamina to be president.
There were high expectations as NBC News headed into what was referred to as a preliminary debate between the two presidential candidates. But for many the “Commander-in-Chief Forum” that aired on MSNBC on Sept. 7 crumbled in the hands of its host, the longtime “Today” show anchor, Matt Lauer.