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.
Let’s start with this morning’s initial apology from a powerful man accused of sexual assault: “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann. As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”
When Papa John’s blamed its declining sales on the issue of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, many found the correlation hard to believe. DiGiorno Pizza saw the opportunity to call them out for it on Twitter and did not hold back, while Pizza Hut subtly thrust itself into the spotlight.
PR News recently asked its community to tell us who should be listed among the top game-changers of PR in the last few years. Here, we look at game-changer Bruce Hennes, founder and managing partner of Hennes Communications. He has been a confidant to scores of CEOs, executive directors and other leaders who trust his expertise in preserving and protecting an organization’s reputation. His long experience has convinced him that honesty, fairness and transparency must be at the root of all effective crisis communications.
Cynthia Martinez has handled some of the worst crises you could imagine. As director of global corporate communications for Royal Caribbean Cruises, Martinez has dealt with everything from fires to a guest committing suicide by jumping overboard. And since any of Royal Caribbean’s guests can tweet or post a video the moment a crisis arises, her team needs to be quick, transparent and, most of all, prepared. Martinez, who will speak at PR News’ Digital and Marketing Show Oct. 17-19 in Miami, shares a few tips on how to own the narrative.
Two weeks after United’s reputation, and stock price, took a hit after airline security forcibly removed Dr. David Dao from a flight, it was American’s turn to deal with a passenger crisis. On April 21, a young mother was reduced to tears during an argument with attendants. The incident—which included a fellow passenger nearly getting into a physical altercation with an attendant—was captured on video and quickly went viral. But unlike United’s response, American quickly apologized, suspended the attendant and didn’t blame the victim.
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.
The solution McDonald’s crafted to its customer service problem is a great example of effective communications.
The contrast between the two railway accidents offers an important juxtaposition in how to handle a crisis, and how not to.
Traditional media and social media alike were churning this morning with reports and commentary on the collapse Wednesday of an eight-story garment factory building in Savar, a suburb of the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka. And… Continued