A crisis scenario has the potential to interrupt business and significantly damage the reputation of your organization. Events ranging from unhappy employees to digital security failures are common and put you at risk. Every organization is vulnerable, yet half of U.S. companies don’t have a crisis communications plan.
Effective communication during a crisis can be the difference between a positive outcome and irreparable damage, which is why proper planning is so important. As with any skill, effective crisis communications requires organizations to prepare and remain sharp. We had five PR professionals answer four questions on this topic. Keep reading to discover... ⇢ read more
You may have noticed…the media landscape has definitely changed with the climate we are in- all over the country and world right now. Years ago, I had an article published on what true media relations means and that same narrative is still relevant with a little tweaking for our current time. It’s all about media relations and when I say “relations” I mean truly having a relationship with the media. It may sound obvious, but most of the time it is a one-way street --PR people asking (pitching) for the story and not really thinking about the person on the... ⇢ read more
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
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
By Fran Stephenson, Principal, Step in Communication
If you haven’t yet heard of the Fyre Festival, there are two new documentaries—one on Netflix and one on Hulu -- which highlight the massive failure of a 2017 luxury music festival promoted by entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule.
It was such a debacle that it landed McFarland in jail, left hundreds of contractors, suppliers and employees unpaid, and ruined the livelihoods of citizens of Great Exuma, the Bahamian Island that was the event site.
It would be easy to dissect every misstep about Fyre Festival because there were a lot of them. But... ⇢ read more
Earlier this month, International House of Pancakes (aka IHOP) made a bold decision to rebrand. At least, that’s what people initially thought. IHOP announced June 4 on Twitter it was “flippin’ our name to IHOb.” The company didn’t tell anyone what the “b” would stand for initially, building suspense for the big reveal.
People guessed everything from biscuits, to bacon to butternut squash. Many people assumed “b” would stand for “breakfast” since IHOP is known for its pancakes and other morning fare. For a week, IHOb (the name had already been changed on Twitter) continued to engage with followers via social... ⇢ read more
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
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
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
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
One of the traditionally best routes to positive brand identity, media exposure, and best of all—public trust, is if the founder, CEO, or public face of an entity you represent is, or has the potential to be, what we call a “thought leader.”
“Thought leader” is a jargon-y term, somewhat overused, but succinctly descriptive. A thought leader is a trusted expert in his/her field, often called upon to discuss innovation, best practices, or even the future of said field.
For example, Elon Musk is a thought leader in electric vehicles and space travel; Chris Brogan is a thought leader in marketing and... ⇢ read more