Spokespeople may be making poor choices this week, but PR and communications teams are demonstrating that their crisis plans are robust by taking quick, decisive action and communicating it to the public effectively. With influencer marketing on the rise, more PR departments large and small should keep these incidents in mind as potential crisis models to anticipate—and responses to emulate.
While it’s still difficult to distinguish all the facts in the airline industry’s latest crisis, there’s enough material available so that we can extract several lessons. Speaking of lessons, those who make a living teaching PR have to be thankful for the wealth of material the airlines have provided them in just the past six months. Since the only freebies airlines provide regularly are small bags of peanuts and soft drinks, PR teachers might consider making a charitable donation to the carriers.
Several situations last week prompted us to think about how brands respond (or don’t) to situations that could become crises. Ken Peterson, communications director of Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Bell Helicopter CCO Robert Hastings urge brands to include an evaluation process in their emergency plans to determine whether or not a situation is a crisis. This evaluation process should include monitoring social conversations and news coverage. That’s step 1 at the Aquarium, Peterson says. Step 2 is an initial assessment to “ramp up or stand down.”
It’s generally accepted that brands are highly vulnerable to crises. We’ve all heard the maxim, “It’s not a question of if your brand will experience a crisis, but when.” The good news is that since communicators work across the enterprise, they are well placed to know where a crisis might erupt. But how about when it doesn’t take an experienced communicator to know that a brand might be vulnerable? We look at two incidents where issues have arisen and brands might be tempted to act.
A ransomware attack ravaged the globe May 12 in the form of WannaCry, a program that spread itself through a Windows networking protocol. There was a patch, but that was no help to the countless users who had not updated and installed it. Much of the blame for this has fallen on Microsoft.
You don’t have to look far to find examples of people and organizations screwing up. So as tempting as it may be to pile onto Uber’s woes or the latest airline mess, Katie Paine uses this edition of Image Patrol to look at the follow-up to crises. What you do is very important, but so is how you respond, ie, the way people and brands say they’re sorry – or don’t.
With the swirl of information inundating consumers sometimes important notices get lost. This can be a dilemma for communicators who often are charged with alerting the public about a product recall, an event that can do serious damage to a brand’s reputation. An expert in such matters, Michael Good provides brand communicators with tips for combatting product recall fatigue.
“Luxury music festival” or “$100 million lawsuit”? All it took was one weekend of social media outrage for the Fyre Festival, a music festival scheduled to start April 27 in the Bahamas, to see its reputation shift from the former to the latter. Concertgoers who had paid up to $12,000 per ticket arrived at a bare-bones campsite in disarray, learned that musical acts had pulled out of the festival and had a difficult time leaving the island location.
What if we could change the course of the next crisis before it got out of hand? Speaking with people in and out of government, I came to believe that we were missing our moment of maximum impact. If we pre-constructed some of what I began calling counter-crisis capabilities (CCC), they could be ready when problems started to percolate. We might reduce the frenzy factor, increase our focus, and enhance performance, argues Brett Bruen, a former White House official.
Most of us wish we could apologize to people in our past for one thing or another. As time passes, though, an apology can become a form of stalking or a self-centered quest for redemption. That person whose feelings you hurt badly when you were 18? She doesn’t want to hear from you now. If only you could board a magical aircraft, zoom back in time and make things right. Speaking of aircraft, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz sent an email on April 27 to customers apologizing for breaking the bonds of trust “when a passenger was forcibly removed” from one of its planes.