Posts Categorized: Crisis Communications

How to Announce the Departure of a High-Level Leader

When a high-level leader abruptly departs an organization, communications professionals often step in to assist with crafting the message, sharing the news internally and communicate with local and trade media. Experienced PR pros know how to handle these situations like the back of your hands, but this article serves as a primer to remind us all about strategies for handling the communications associated with the departure of a high-profile leader. The Background: Learning About the Departure Capture Public Relations & Marketing, an agency based in Winston-Salem, has worked with a local organization on a project basis for years.  They know we’re here when... ⇢ read more

Why Communicators Should Help Crisis Clients Move Toward Long-term Innovation

Last year, I wrote my guest blog for PRCG Powerlines about vulnerability as the “secret sauce” to effective crisis communications. To say that theory has been tested in 2020 by COVID-19 – and other crises/issues of this year -- is an understatement. I think there are many communications professionals who would agree that their clients were “forced into” a level of vulnerability they had never experienced before. I’d guess (and hope) that those who accepted their vulnerable state and communicated it with candor and authenticity did a long-term service to their brand and organization. But let’s face it, it’s “getting old” for... ⇢ read more

The biggest blind spot in crisis communications

Read enough crisis communications plans and you’ll see a host of contingencies for communicating with journalists, lawmakers, shareholders and customers. You’ll also see a variety of templated news releases, dark websites and proposed hashtags. Rarely, however, will you see any strategies and tactics directed at one of the most important audiences in any crisis: the employees who work for the organization at the center of the incident. Why are employees so often overlooked? Maybe it’s because communicating with them is a routine matter at most organizations. Maybe it’s because employee communications lacks the glamor of media relations and executive communications. Or... ⇢ read more

Hurricane Florence Offers Crisis Management Refresher

What crisis management lessons can a disaster like Hurricane Florence provide to organizations and the PR pros who support them? Recently, I flew into North Carolina to help a friend with what started as a small, rural nonprofit dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.  My friend saw a need and stepped in — using her natural gifts and savvy about people — to grow the organization to be a key player in her county during Hurricane Florence. Our PR Challenge: Staying “rural relevant” while quickly getting the organization “more sophisticated” in media relations and big-time grant opportunity development. After my years of working... ⇢ read more

Common Pitfalls in Crisis Team Management

Everyone makes mistakes. We have been taught this from a very young age. In many situations, mistakes are understandable and easily handled. However, they do tend to make situations more difficult, and often, more complicated. When your company is confronted with a crisis, there is rarely any leg room for added complications. Addressing possible mistakes or pitfalls in crisis management is integral to the process. Although you cannot see into the future, there are a number of common pitfalls that may be stealthily avoided with the right amount of preparation, communication and teamwork. No Action Plan In order to tackle a crisis... ⇢ read more

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