Uncertainty could be one of the handmaidens of crisis. So you can imagine the mood in Washington, D.C., as a new administration transitions into the White House. Presidential transitions often are bumpy, even when the new administration is from the incumbent’s party (think the balky path from the Reagan White House to the Bush team in 1989). The phones of brand communicators and PR firms alike are ringing a lot at the moment. Many of the calls are about crisis or potential crisis. As such, we asked communicators who will be speaking at PR News’ Crisis Management Boot Camp in Huntington Beach later this month for best practices to prepare for and react to crisis.
In crisis communication, more than any other facet of PR, planning is crucial; allowances must be made for various possibilities, and responses need to be deployed with utmost speed. It may seem a daunting task to develop such plans, but if you have a set of underlying principles, you may find that your plans flow out of that foundation in a very natural way.
Have the efforts of Wells Fargo’s PR, communications and marketing teams shifted the conversation about the brand away from the bogus credit card scandal of early September? We asked TrendKite to crunch the numbers.
Rocked by several crises, Delta begins providing diversity training to cabin crews. This a good move by the air carrier as diversity incidents rose fast in 2016, prompting the Department of Transportation to issue guidelines to airlines and passengers recently. The larger question for communicators, though, is any industry immune to social media-driven crises?
Given the rapid pace at which we digest information, expert crisis management is the best defense against a brand reputation meltdown. Managing the flow of harmful news articles and social media posts is a delicate craft, best handled by PR pros with a balanced approach—neither dismissing the seriousness of claims, nor issuing a hasty apology. One such PR professional, George Atallah, assistant executive director of external affairs at the NFL Players Association, spoke on crisis PR with Doug Simon, president and CEO of D S Simon Media, at PR News’ Media Relations Conference in December.
Many organizations make the mistake of not planning for a crisis, thinking it’s either superstitious or somewhat futile. But when dealing with a crisis, you need to be fast, transparent and most of all, prepared, says Linda Rutherford, vice president and chief communications officer with Southwest Airlines. Here are three lessons she has learned from the airline industry and beyond.
Given their broad franchise networks and large customer base—and of course their huge social media audiences—fast-food chains can be seen as guinea pigs for how the public discourse is digitally evolving. Consider the latest high-profile example of how a single Facebook post led to the rapid closure of a Dairy Queen—within 48 hours of being posted.
McDonald’s has opened a location just a stone’s throw from Vatican City, eliciting complaints from Vatican authorities. NBC reported at least one cardinal’s public opposition, calling the opening “perverse” and “abberant.” Amidst a flurry of international headlines, McDonald’s has been noticeably silent, and has not issued any kind of public statement. The fast food chain hasn’t even announced the opening on social media or other official channels. McDonald’s silent posture is likely a strategic move to keep the brand out of a volatile situation.
IKEA, the Sweden-based furniture giant, agreed to pay $50 million to settle a lawsuit over deaths that occurred when its dressers tipped over onto children. It’s a significant black eye for the brand going into the holidays; one wonders, then, if another bit of related news was carefully timed to divert the conversation to something a bit more lighthearted.
There were so many candidates for Image Patrol this month, and with the year ending we decided to forego the usual comparison of two brands and instead create the ultimate image disaster list for 2016. This PR News Pro premium content is offered to you free in the spirit of the season.