Veteran PR pro and former journalist Arthur Solomon continues his series of communications lessons pulled from 2017 news headlines. In this edition, Solomon concentrates on lessons learned from crises that involved Equifax, BP and the White House.
Amtrak is facing a crisis after a derailment caused at least three deaths and dozens of injuries in Washington on Dec. 18. And in the early aftermath, the organization has done an exemplary job of crisis communications, providing frequent updates on social media, opening a microsite for more information and offering transparency by holding a conference call soon after the accident.
Our regular crisis measurement guru Katie Paine considers crises of 2017 and selects the crisis of the year. Can you guess which brand has the dubious distinction? Hint, the brand was handed an awful situation, partly through its own negligence, and then sat on the situation for several weeks before announcing it to the public.
In a nutshell, 2017 has been a year of scandals, viral posts and revelations. Several big brands grappled with major crises, fake news continued to dog the major social media platforms and brands braced themselves for the possibility of being tweeted at by President Trump. But it certainly wasn’t all doom and gloom. Here, we’ve rounded up seven of the most memorable PR stories that defined 2017.
What’s the proper protocol for brands when an event like today’s attempted terrorist attack in New York City occurs? Should a brand go silent and stop sending out any social media promotions as the dust settles or is it best to send out thoughts and prayers in a show of solidarity?
Crisis management, our author argues, is itself in crisis. The causes of this crisis in crisis PR include challenges in philosophy, technology and ethics, not to mention that some crises (see Lauer, Matt and Rose, Charlie) begin and end so quickly that crisis PR barely has time to roll up its sleeves. What’s a company or a brand in crisis to do?
With the firings of Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer and Garrison Keillor, the face of crisis PR has been changed, for the moment at least. When your client is fired before he can even say, “I need crisis PR,” what’s left for crisis PR people to do? On the other hand, perhaps all these men still need crisis PR. Look at Charlie Rose, who was ambushed on the street and gave a very inappropriate response to a question.
NBC News anchor Matt Lauer has been fired after sexual allegations were raised by a fellow employee at the company. On Nov. 29, a memo from NBC News chairman Andy Lack was released to the press announcing the firing to NBC employees and citing a complaint of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace” as the reason for Laurer’s termination. This comes amid a wave of revelations of sexual misconduct by public figures in the media, politics and entertainment spheres. But NBC’s swift response appears to be a shift in the way these stories have broken thus far.
Massage Envy, the spa chain with nearly 1,200 U.S. locations, is under fire as a BuzzFeed investigation brought to light more than 180 allegations of sexual assault made against the company and its franchisees over a 15-year span. And its response to the crisis so far has served as a cautionary tale of bad planning, offering a lesson in what not to do to contain a crisis.
YouTube is once again facing a brand advertiser exodus for reputation-harming advertising placements. A recent investigation revealed that YouTube ran ads from “dozens” of brands with videos uploaded by children that were targets for predatory comments.