In today’s personality-driven culture, it’s sometimes hard to sort out whether it’s the guy at the top who causes a crisis or the culture he has created within the organization. Either way, most of the time, a crisis starts at the top. But in 2017, one could make the case that cultural and social norms are exerting a greater influence than the people in charge. The crises we’ll examine here, PewDiePie/Youtube/Disney/Google and Uber’s latest, we would argue, owe as much if not more to changing norms than to corporate leadership.
In today’s rapid-fire world of communications, brand reputations can be torn down in a moment by a single tweet or Facebook post. One of the major facets of being prepared for such a crisis is having a staff that’s ready to respond and rebuild at a moment’s notice. To investigate the process behind preparing staff for a calamity, PR News opened its Crisis Management Boot Camp on Feb. 23 with a session on building a flameproof crisis team.
It’s too early to say with a lot of certainty, but it appears Uber has absorbed several PR lessons concerning crisis management. It’s had a fair amount of practice. The most recent incident for the SF-based company has Susan Fowler, a former employee, penning a widely circulated blog post about sexual harassment at Uber. It’s hard to fault the response of the company’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, this time. He’s taken several of the basic steps of crisis management and done so promptly.
When social media channels started to emerge in the early 2000s, many of us thought these platforms would improve business understanding and help break down barriers between companies and their critics. More than a decade later, it hasn’t exactly turned out that way. These days the chatter in business sanctums is more about the weaponization of social media. Twitter, Facebook and others are being used to denigrate, belittle and demonize brands as well as the people who run them.
In times of stress, one’s judgment is impaired, no matter how cool the head might seem. This holds true for both individuals and organizations in crisis mode, and the temptation to act out on social media can be too great for some. The best defense is a smart, succinct crisis plan that can be shared throughout an organization.
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.