Posts Categorized: Crisis Communications

Ricanstructing our Business after Hurricane María: Going Back to Basics

“I will contribute to Puerto Rico’s recovery by not becoming an unemployment statistic.” That statement became my mantra as soon as I knew my family, friends and employees were safe after Hurricane Maria wiped out Puerto Rico’s power, telecom, and basic needs infrastructure. Yes, we have helped in volunteer efforts and community building initiatives, but making sure that my clients were properly served and that we kept our jobs became a top priority, especially the first days after the storm. This is how we “Ricanstructed” our business during the first 72 hours after Hurricane Maria: Knock, Knock. It’s me. As all wireless telecom systems collapsed... ⇢ read more

Communicating with empathy following a tragedy

Much has been written about the importance of organizations communicating effectively in the wake of a tragedy. That includes being mindful of what you say to avoid appearing tone-deaf. From the devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico to the mass shooting in Las Vegas and the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, we’ve seen countless viral examples of people who got it wrong. There’s the CBS News attorney who posted a comment about the Las Vegas shootings on Facebook, “I’m actually not even sympathetic [bc] country music fans are often republican gun toters.” And, Donna Karan who weighed in on the... ⇢ read more

Four paths to patriotic public relations

By Jenny Smith, Acuity PR Our nation’s birthday is a great time to reflect on our founding principles. In today’s climate of alternative facts, fake news and ADHD reporting, it’s important to ask ourselves: How can we practice truly patriotic public relations? 1. Practice the Four-Way Test When business executive and Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor set out to save the Club Aluminum Products distribution company from bankruptcy, he created policies to reflect his faith and his standards. Taylor wrote The Four-Way Test of the things we think, say or do. Today, The Four-Way Test is used by Rotary International as a moral code for their personal and business... ⇢ read more

Crisis Communications: PR needs a seat at the table

For companies like Pepsi and United, these past few weeks have not been “friendly” after long hours trying to battle crises within their respective organizations. Every time a crisis hits major corporations, such as these, public relations professionals are left scratching their heads wondering who is in charge and why the PR people “didn’t have a seat at the table?”…from the beginning. PR professionals are oftentimes called in after the crisis hits versus having a seat at the table during the initial planning and strategizing phases. It’s clear that in the case of Pepsi, the advertising firm created what they thought was a... ⇢ read more

The Big Bad Wolf: When Mother Nature Strikes

As a child, my mom diligently worked with me to read books every week. From stories of emperors with no clothes to giants in the sky, one of my favorites was the story of “The Three Little Pigs.” To this day, I am not sure why that story resonated with me, although I am sure it had something to do with the fact my mom always made funny voices for the pigs and the wolf. The moral of the story rings true, especially in Oklahoma; better to work hard and be prepared than to be ill-prepared. During the spring months, we... ⇢ read more

The Art of Apology

In times of controversy, Elton John was right. Sorry seems to be the hardest word. Look no further than Bill Clinton, Paula Deen and British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward. In what The Atlantic calls “one of the most famous apologies in modern American history,” President Bill Clinton sounded stony and defiant in August 1998 when, after seven months of denials, he delivered a televised speech admitting to a sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky. Paula Deen’s ill-fated 2013 apology tour for using a racial epithet resulted in the loss of sponsors such as The Food Network, QVC and Walmart, and ultimately, led to... ⇢ read more

Launching the Common Sense Communications Revolution

There have been a few events/circumstances that occurred recently, which have prompted me to consider starting a new movement. Who's with me? “What is it?” you are asking? Well, I would like to propose a new direction/focus to the practice of Public Relations and call it…Common Sense Communications. I think it might better explain what we do and how we personally approach the discipline as it relates to our clients and life in general. A client called recently with a potential crisis at its facility, which was brought to their attention by a customer. Without providing all the important information to us,... ⇢ read more

POWERBALL: PR Nightmare Waiting to Happen

By Felicia K. Knight, President The Knight Canney Group KnightCanney.com Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! Three winners, actually. Yes, the Powerball has been won. To all you winners, your dreams have come true. But you are about to be thrust headlong into a public relations nightmare—unless you take steps to save yourselves. None of you live in Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio, or South Carolina, which means, by law, you must be identified as a winner. And that’s when the ticket hits the fan. Once you’re photographed holding that big check, you will be amazed at the number of relatives,... ⇢ read more

What Chipotle can teach us about crisis communications

Food safety problems can be a recipe for disaster in the restaurant industry. Just ask Chipotle Mexican Grill. In the span of two months beginning in October, the company has dealt with an outbreak of E. coli infections that sickened 52 people in nine states and forced the company to temporarily close some locations along with reports earlier this month that up to 140 people fell ill from norovirus linked to a Chipotle restaurant in Boston. The situation was summed up best by US News & World Report: “For a company founded on fresh ingredients and locally sourced food, it was a... ⇢ read more

Where do you see the future of PR heading?

Our future is coming together. As a profession, public relations will redefine itself by casting off the label of “public relations.” Our future is in earning the mantle of strategic counselor and providing leaders with creative solutions to their problems. Clients don’t care what the marketing mix is—and neither should we. The lines between digital, social media, advertising and public relations are more blurred (and unnecessary) than ever before. Most strategic communication efforts will not require every channel or discipline, but if we fail to consider each one, we run the risk of missed opportunities. Coming together in this way creates a more... ⇢ read more

Crisis Response: You must be swift, you must be decisive, but above all, you must be accurate

In the weeks following the Germanwings Flight 9525 crash, Lufthansa Group and its Chief Executive Carsten Spohr faced tremendous pressure as they crafted messaging for customers, employees, investors and the general public. PR practitioners (myself included) have closely observed the company’s response strategy unfold. One of the biggest twists came in late March, when Lufthansa said it knew of the pilot’s depression diagnosis, but did not prevent him from working. The recent history of flight disasters underscores the critical need for airlines to deploy swift and decisive crisis communication, but not at the expense of accuracy. My evaluation of Lufthansa’s crisis response aligns most... ⇢ read more