There is a fine line between adopting a social issue and taking a position on something so controversial that it quickly escalates from good intention to crisis. While this piece is not intended to determine the rightness or wrongness of Kaepernick’s act, from a communications perspective, here are a few things that PR pros should consider if someone from your organization is preparing to make a political statement.
Ryan Lochte, the embattled U.S. Olympic swimmer who falsely claimed to be robbed at gunpoint with three other swimmers in Rio de Janeiro, began an apology tour on Aug. 20. Speaking with NBC’s Matt Lauer and Felipe Santana of Globo, one of Brazil’s largest television networks, Lochte accepted responsibility for his actions, at times appearing on the verge of tears with Lauer. But some in the PR world said his apology and overall crisis communications leave much to be desired.
The classic school of crisis management is rooted in the concept of goodwill banks, with the idea being that a company builds up goodwill over time, which is a currency that helps withstand a crisis. While much has changed in the best practices of crisis management, the concept of building a goodwill bank still holds up. Fundamentally, building a goodwill bank begins with building relationships. Just like any relationship, if it’s one sided—where one party is always asking for something—it rarely becomes a trusted relationship.
We asked TrendKite, a Texas-based media tracker, to run an analysis of media and social mentions, key messages and headlines to see if Chipotle’s plan to change the conversation worked. The data, generated exclusively for PR News Pro, could also determine how long a crisis can linger in the media. The stock market, however, has a quick way to calculate this: Chipotle shares are down nearly 50% during the past year.
It’s no secret that a crisis can pop up at any time and put an organization in a precarious position. The crisis can present itself seemingly out of nowhere—like the diving and water polo pools at the Rio Olympics turning mysteriously green, or Delta Airlines’ power failure—and dangerously skew the perception of a brand. While it’s essential to focus on a transparent and progressive external response, communicating clearly and efficiently with employees can create powerful brand ambassadors in troubled times.
It’s been a tough day for Delta Airlines. But it’s been even more excruciating for the company’s customers. The company seems to be doing its best to keep passengers informed and is offering refunds and waivers for ticket exchanges, which are both good things. But as technology becomes more heavily integrated into the airline industry, these types of outages and glitches are becoming major problems for airline brands. Only a few weeks ago, on July 20, Southwest Airlines experienced a similar technology related problem that caused days of delays and cancellations.
After a 2-year-old boy was killed June 14 by an alligator at Walt Disney World, a brand representing magic seemed to be without pixie dust. In today’s news cycle, it is impossible for companies, especially those as large and iconic as Disney, to hide from online critics who thrive on call-outs of organizations undergoing a crisis.
Anxiety will run high during the Aug. 5 opening ceremonies for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, especially for Olympics organizers and the Brazilian organizing committee. They’re already dealing with three (by our count) categories of ongoing crises specific to the Olympic Games, and a fourth potential crisis that is the stuff of nightmares.
With the 2016 Olympics just around the corner, bringing with it concerns about Zika as well as the water and air quality in Rio de Janeiro, it’s a good time to refresh our awareness for handling health crises. When you think about it, there are countless organizations that could be damaged by associations with a health crisis at any moment.
On August 5 Brazil is set to become the first South American country to host the Olympics. Some half million people are expected to join a city of 6 million inhabitants. While it has been well documented globally that Rio faces extreme challenges ( PRN, May 16), you’d not know it looking at the communications the Rio Olympics’ organizing committee is producing. The committee has a user-friendly, visually attractive website with stunning photos, press kits, news updates and social media links, among other PR tactics. Similar to many other sporting events, there is a festive and triumphant tone to the committee’s storytelling. While it’s understood that PR pros are expected to stress the positive aspects of stories, this must be balanced with at least some level of transparency. The committee’s lack of honest communications about the economic, social and health challenges facing Rio could become a negative story and perhaps reflect poorly on brands taking sponsorship roles at the games. At the least, the social and economic problems represent opportunities missed for brands on the CSR front.