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Posts tagged ‘crisis’

Crisis management: FedEx case

In December 2011, a video of a FedEx deliveryman throwing a customer’s monitor over their fence on YouTube received over 3,000,000 views within 48 hours. Rather than ignoring the scandal FedEx immediately responded in kind. In a blog post entitled ‘Absolutely, Positively, Unacceptable’ and accompanying video of their own, Fedex apologize and explain that the offending video is now being used within the company to show employees what not to do. (more…)

Crisis management: Eurolines accident

I just finished reading 100 Great PR Ideas, written by Jim Blythe, where I found some interesting PR topics, which will be part of my blog content in the next days.

Create a crisis team
Bad things happen in most industries from time to time. Some industries are especially prone to newsworthy incidents—airlines are an obvious example—while others may go for years without anything happening that would hit the headlines. However, if a crisis does occur, it is amazing how fast it can turn from a simple, solvable problem into a PR disaster.

For many firms, such a crisis can be enough to destroy the company. When a Pan American airlines flight was destroyed by terrorists over Lockerbie, the company suffered a PR disaster when it emerged that warnings had been given about a bomb on the aircraft. The fact that PanAm received an average of four bomb warnings a day made no difference to the public perception: shortly afterward, PanAm went out of business. The problem was that PanAm did not have an effective crisis management protocol.

The idea
Many companies have a well-established crisis team who anticipate scenarios that may create PR problems, and work out solutions in advance. When Eurolines, the European long-distance bus company, suffered a crisis they had a plan in place. A Eurolines bus from Warsaw to London was hit by a lorry in Germany, injuring a number of passengers (some seriously). The company’s crisis team were ready: some passengers were hospitalized in Germany, some were given the option of returning to Warsaw, others were given the option of continuing to London.

oana vasiliuAt the London end, a large hotel was booked to receive passengers. Medical staff were on hand to provide help (although of course all injured passengers had already received medical care in Germany) and interpreters were available. The passenger list was checked to determine the nationalities of passengers—not all were Poles, since some had travelled to Warsaw from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and even Russia to meet the connection in Poland. Rooms were booked for all passengers and also for friends or family who had expected to meet the coach. Eurolines’ operations director was also present, as well as the PR officer, to field questions from the Press and specifically to prevent reporters from harassing passengers for comments. A buffet was provided for all those present, and the following day Eurolines issued free tickets for onward connections in Britain, recognizing that many passengers would have missed their connections or whoever was meeting them in London. The organization was exemplary: efficient, effective, and geared to creating goodwill all around. Such a slick approach does not happen by accident—it only happens through careful planning and rehearsal.

In practice
• Choose the right people to be on the team. They need to be senior enough to carry credibility with the firm’s publics, and to understand the possible problems and solutions.
• Arrange for the crisis team to meet regularly to consider possible scenarios.
• Practice—do dummy runs.
• Ensure that team members know how to deal with the Press— having someone say “No comment” to every question is a PR disaster in itself.


Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Anti-cheese campaign

I found days ago a great article in PR Daily about an anti-cheese campaign with tips for the PR team in order to manage this situation. Basically, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) designed this billboard casting the Grim Reaper as a cheesehead.

The sign appeared in Wisconsin, US, near Lambeau Field, where the Green Bay Packers routinely send opponents to meet their maker. The message is “Warning: Cheese can sack your health. Fat. Cholesterol. Sodium.”

What is PR specialist opinion ?

The one-two punch of the Packers undertone and the ill health effects of cheese isn’t really the best approach, not only from the ad side, but from the PR and marketing professionals who focus on the impact of paid media and intertwine it with earned, owned, and shared spaces.

Public relations professionals are consistently aware of their audience, whether it’s around their reactions, passion, or even just a passing mention. Tacky, distasteful ads have a way of impacting not only the audience, but the image and impact for which public relations is responsible. The best ad and PR teams work together from a unified overall objectives thought process.

As a consumer and Packers fan, I might have absorbed the health angle and understood. With the added bonus of the Packers undertone, it completely turned me off as a health-conscious consumer.

What can public relations professionals do to ensure their messaging and objectives are also getting seen on the paid side?

• Communicate brand positioning tactics and objectives.
• Realize that brand perception goes beyond ads.
• Understand that the complete package (PESO – paid, earned, shared and owned media) influences your audience.
• If health-related, understand why your target market loves a certain product or lifestyle, and focus on not overlaying a stereotype to an entire fan base. This ensures that you do not alienate those that the message might reach.
• Have a crisis communications plan in place in case an ad, shared/earned media or communications are not well received.
• Use consumer and market research to understand the demographic and prepare for any type of scenario.

Great tips, I have to say. Great lesson of learning how a crisis can be handled.

Source: PR Daily


Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.





Crisis situation: Takeaway Rembrandt

Do you know Jacob de Gheyn III ? I don’t, but art thefts kinda like his portrait, made by Rembrandt. Why this paining is so special ? Just because it has the title of most often stolen painting in the Guiness Book of Records, with its nickname The Takeaway Rembrandt.

A few works have been stolen twice, but hardly any paintings have been stolen more often than that. Except for one work: Rembrandt’s Portrait of Jacob de Gheyn (1632), which has been stolen four times from the same museum.

The picture, which hangs in the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, was stolen for the first time in 1966 by a gang of criminals hoping to resell it on the black market. Thanks to smart police work, it was recovered within two weeks, and hung back on its former spot. The second time it was stolen, in 1973, the thief did not enter the gallery at night like his predecessors, but simply walked into the gallery and put the painting in a plastic bag. He then walked out of the museum and mounted his bike, but was soon halted by policemen. The 24-year old thief boldly declared that he liked the look of the painting and wanted to sketch it.

In 1981, Portrait of Jacob de Gheyn was stolen for the third time. This time the two thieves entered the gallery during the day, one of them distracted the guard and the other took the painting from the wall. Indeed, it could not be simpler to steal a work of art from a museum, because the gallery simply could not afford expensive security measures. However, after the painting was retrieved after a couple of weeks, the museum decided to invest $ 20,000 in its security. Although the system worked this time – the police was alarmed when the thieves took the painting from the wall at night and arrived at the gallery three minutes later – it was too late: the thieves were already gone, and had taken the painting with them. This time it would take three years for the painting the resurface. It was found in Munster in 1986, but no one ever found out who had stolen it. Perhaps the art world criminals figured out that the painting is by now too famous to be resold, since for the past 25 years it remained safe in the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

I believe that this paining has nowadays the best crisis management plan. You ?

Source: Eclecticism.nl

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Case studies for social media crisis management

Some of the crisis that companies are dealing with nowadays are coming from social media, believe it or not. We give the power to our consumers and they are responding via different social media channels, positive or negative. Today I found some interesting cases of social media crisis management via scoop.it. Again, Slideshare is a great help.

British Petroleum, Ford Motor and Nestle

Better tomorrow,

Crisis management: Toyota case

Today I found an interesting case study about crisis management: Toyota. Mashable is presenting the facts and the story of Toyota via social media:

In January 2010, Toyota faced a nightmare situation for any brand, but particularly for one that staked its reputation on safety and quality: The company had to recall 2.3 million vehicles because of faulty accelerator pedals.

Suddenly, Toyota was trending on Google and Twitter on a daily basis, but for all the wrong reasons. Auto brands had faced similar crises before — Audi in particular grappled with a gas accelerator recall in the 1980s — but none had done so under the 24/7 scrutiny of social media.

But Kimberley Gardiner, Toyota’s national digital marketing and social media manager, saw an opportunity as well.

“Right away, we were seeing a lot of conversation and getting a lot of people who were using social media to reach out to us,” she says. “We didn’t have a lot of answers at the beginning.”

Toyota’s social media team, which was only a few months old at the time, decided to address the situation head on, but in a novel way: via Digg.

Before Digg’s disastrous Version 4 hit in August 2010, the site had a lot more social media influence. Recall that in 2009, Digg’s traffic ranged from 37 million to 44 million unique visitors each month. Plus, the site had outsize influence on Google News searches. At the time, it seemed like the best place for Toyota to get its message across.

On February 8, Toyota served up Jim Lentz, president of Toyota’s North American sales operation, to the masses in the form of a Digg Dialogg. In many ways, the appearance was a stroke of genius. For one thing, Lentz didn’t actually appear on Digg, but on a dedicated video site. The questions, which were voted on by fans (the ones with the most votes rose to the top) also wound up being pretty softball. “They were mostly general questions, like ‘What kind of car does Mr. Lentz drive?’” says Florence Drakton, social media manager. (“That’s a great question,” a clearly relieved Lentz answers.) Lentz’s interview, which ran 28 minutes, is still available on YouTube:

It was hard to beat the reach Toyota got from the appearance. Within a week, the Dialogg had received 1.2 million views. “Probably the biggest indicator of interest was there were 3,200 questions,” says Drakton. “Only celebrities have gotten that much.” In addition to reaching a fairly big audience, the Dialogg gave Toyota theappearance of achieving social media branding nirvana: Transparency. Though there were other factors at play, like news fatigue, researcher YouGov’s BrandIndex, which polls 5,000 Internet users daily, saw a bottoming out around the time of the Dialogg. Note: YouGov’s scores are based on consumers’ perception of the brand. A positive is +100 and negative is -100.

The best news for Toyota, though, is the company’s brand perception among those in the market for a car within the next six months is high. In YouGov’s most recent survey, Toyota was second only to Honda among that audience; the brand had leapfrogged Ford sometime in August.

Looking back, Gardiner says although the Digg Dialoggs (there were two more in July and August of 2010) were successful, if the same thing happened today, she’d probably use a TweetChat on Twitter instead. In fact, the medium is a favorite of Toyota’s, which has held several such chats in the last few months. Facebook, Gardiner says, is a great way to reach out to Toyota owners, but Twitter addresses those consumers who might be skeptical about the brand.

The choice of the exact form of social media may be beside the point, though. Like Dell, which became a social media poster child after its Dell Hell debacle, Toyota’s recall situation forced the company to embrace social media. “Toyota is an organization that is not used to being on camera and in the spotlight,” Gardiner says. “It was new to many people in the organization. It’s not something you plan for. We’re learning as we go.”

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.


What about @irene ?

Everyone knows about Irene. No, it is not a beautiful lady, it is just another hurricane which stroke America. And, of course, Irene is social media friendly, as most of us nowadays. What is really impressing is the fact that not only the hurricane itself posts news and updates, but also authorities and news agencies.  

Twitter hashtags #irene and #hurricane kept everyone on the Eastern Seaboard informed over the weekend on the storm’s movement and the damage it left in its wake. Throughout Sunday, when the storm marched through New York and New Jersey, #Irene tweets came in nearly every second. 

News stations used #irene to pour out news updates and hurricane coverage scheduling. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tweeted Sunday to stay indoors, also offering links to news conferences. 

As the storm hit New York City, Mayor Mayor Micheal Bloomberg offered some edicts, and words of encouragement, via Twitter: 

Sunday, 4 a.m.: RT @NYCMayorsOffice: We are in the midst of the most dangerous period of the storm, so for your safety, continue to remain indoors. #Irene

Saturday, 11 p.m.: Please stay where you are until the storm is over. Look out for one another. We will update you tomorrow morning. #Irene

Saturday, 11 p.m.: It doesn’t matter if you’re in a shelter tonight, or in your home, or staying with friends or family. We’re all in this together. #Irene  

A Facebook community page called Hurricane Irene was established on Aug. 21, when Irene was officially given a name. At the time it was a tropical storm. Leading into Monday morning, the page had grown to 20,000 “likes” and featured hundreds of comments, videos and photos. The Facebook Hurricane Irene “interest” page logged nearly 100,000 “likes.” 

One company, Clean Pro Restoration, used the forum to solicit business — ‎”…….FLOODED??? WATER DAMAGE?? STORM DAMAGE? CALL TODAY” — drawing an immediate backlash from the page’s contributors. The comment was removed. The company’s anemic website offers no information about where the company is located or who runs it. 

Social media also served as an outlet for some to complain about nonstop media coverage of the storm. One New Jersey Facebook poster said:

“Is it wrong to opine that if Hurricane Irene doesn’t level the Statue of Liberty, kill me and allow my wife to cash her $1 million life insurance lotto ticket, or turn Princeton New Jersey into Tripoli, it’ll all be a letdown for the masses minions and television anchors and reporters?” 

Another Tweet said: “Hurricane Irene is Category 1. CNN hype is Category 4.” 

Source: PR Daily.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.









What can a T-shirt do ?

oana vasiliuI never thought that a T-shirt can make such a buzz. But it can and it almost transformed it in a crisis situation. JCPenney received a lesson about what social media means in terms of public opinion.

According PR Daily, on 1st of September JCP is apologizing for the message which is printed to a T-shirt that is sold on their website: “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.”

The promo copy for the shirt reads: “Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out? She’ll love this tee that’s just as cute and sassy as she is.”

Being smart is so last season.

Backlash on the company’s Facebook page has been swift, with people condemning the company for selling the shirt. One commenter writes:

It will be quite some time before I spend my dollars at [JCPenney]. I also question the person(s) responsible for making the decision to manufacture and sell this particular t-shirt. Are they still employed with JCP….and what will they ‘create’ next? Insulting at the very least. [JCPenney], as a corporation, should be so very ashamed of themselves.”

oana vasiliuA number of commenters also expressed confusion as to why people are getting so worked up about a T-shirt. Another commenter says: “Just don’t buy the T-shirt simple as that.”

JCPenney has agreed to pull the T-shirt from its website and has apologized for producing it. A rep from the company’s corporate communications department told the Village Voice:

“We are not happy about the shirt! We’re looking into it right now, to find out how it happened. It was only online, not available in stores, and we have removed it from the site.”

Companies, be very careful what you do. The public has more and more power in their hands so be prepared for what’s worse.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Crisis management: candy rationing in 1942

oana vasiliuCan you imagine your life without candies ? In 2011, it’s impossible, but years ago, in 1940, UK, candies were rationing because of the shortage of supplies. Rationing came into force on 8 January 1940, a few months after the start of World War II. All sorts of essential and non-essential foods were rationed, as well as clothing, furniture and petrol. Rationing of sweets and chocolate began on 26 July 1942.

The process of de-rationing began in 1948, but made slow progress until 1953. Then Food Minister Gwilym Lloyd-George made it a priority for his department.As well as sweets, he took eggs, cream, butter, cheese, margarine and cooking fats off the ration books.He de-rationed sugar in September 1953, partly as a result of pressure from sweet manufacturers, and finally ended rationing when meat was taken off the ration books in July1954.

Many, particularly women, took up smoking when sugar became scarce, so the tobacco industry expected a drop in sales once sugar became more widely available.

After 11 years, this candy rationing ends in Great Britain. BBC says:

Children all over Britain have been emptying out their piggy-banks and heading straight for the nearest sweet-shop as the first unrationed sweets went on sale today.

Toffee apples were the biggest sellers, with sticks of nougat and liquorice strips also disappearing fast.

One firm in Clapham Common gave 800 children 150lbs of lollipops during their midday break from school; and a London factory opened its doors to hand out free sweets to all comers.

Adults joined in the sugar frenzy, with men in the City queuing up in their lunch breaks to buy boiled sweets and to enjoy the luxury of being able to buy 2lb boxes of chocolates to take home for the weekend.

oana vasiliu

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

How to be a businesswoman in a men’s world

From today, Christine Lagarde is officially in charge of International Monetary Fund and she is also the first woman who was nominated for this function.

Who is Christine Lagarde?

Christine Madeleine Odette Lagarde was the Minster of Economic Affairs, Finances and Industry of France. She was appointed to her current position by President Nicolas Sarkozy in June 2007. Previously, she was Minister of Agriculture and Fishing and Minister of Trade. Lagarde was the first woman ever to become minister of Economic Affairs of a G8 economy, and is the first woman to ever head the IMF.

A noted antitrust and labour lawyer, Lagarde made history as the first female chair of the international law firm Baker&McKenzie. On 16 November 2009, The Financial Times ranked her the best minister of finance of the Eurozone. In 2009, Lagarde was ranked the 17th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine.

What’s more ?

In 2010, Charles Ferguson directed a film called Inside Job about the financial crisis, a film which won an Academic Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2011. Christine Lagarde was interviewed for the movie and this is what she said:

I  truly recommend the film, it is one of the best resumes of what economic crisis means.

And a short video description of what she’s been doing since now:

Personally, I wish her good luck and wise decisions. As far as I am concern, I could only hope that she will become one of my role models.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

Crisis management – do’s and do not’s for media interviews

“Being interviewed is like playing Russian roulette. You never know which question will kill you.”

That is the impression most PR specialists have when they deal with a crisis and they have to answer press questions. Today I’m going to note do’s and do not’s for media interviews, from Crisis Communications A Casebook Approach written by Fern Banks. (more…)

Crisis management: Titanic case

oana vasiliuIf something can go wrong, it will“, says one of Murphy’s laws.  A crisis is a major occurrence with a potentially negative outcome affecting the organization, company, industry, publics, products, services or good name. A crisis interrupts normal business transactions and can sometimes threaten the existence of the organization.

Almost 100 years ago, in 1912, the British had to deal with one of the well known crisis: the sinking of the Titanic.

As everyone knows, Titanic was one of several ships of the White Star Line. In that time, the first competitor of White Star was the Cunard Line, which had two ships: the Luisitania and the Mauritania. White Star placed itself as the best ship-building company; the size, elegance, sumptuousness and safety were its main characteristics.

In 1910, White Star Line had three ships to launch – the Olympic, the Titanic and the Gigantic. Great publicity was made to promote these luxurious ships. Titanic was called “the largest moving object in the world”. A promotional brochure claimed the Olympic and the Titanic “designed to be unsinkable”.

Titanic personnel were chosen to appeal to a celebrated and wealthy clientele. The Captain, E.J.Smith, was the highest-paid captain on the seas.

With such a fully equipped ship and the best personnel, they didn’t find necessary to develop a crisis management plan (CMP) or a crisis communication plan (CCP). The ship couldn’t sink, as they said, and nothing could possibly happen. There were medical facilities, for a worst case scenario and if help needed, personnel could radio other ships.

What would have happened if it existed that time a CMP ?

oana vasiliuA CMP would have detailed what would be done in the event of fire and other tragedies-how evacuation would take place, how to conduct practice drills for the crew and possibly passengers, who would lower the lifeboats, who would ensure that passengers were guided safely to the closest lifeboats and ships, who would contact persons ashore by radio, when crew members would save themselves, and so on. A CMP would also include making sure effective insurance policies were in place.

The CMP would include the crisis communication plan. This means it would include notification of the home office, where personnel acting as public relations professionals would in turn notify the press, White Star Line executives and employees and passenger’s relatives. The CCP would also include the details about who would be the spokesperson. In Titanic case, Capt. Smith could have been the best person if he had survived, but Smith went down with the ship. However, the managing director of White Star, J. Bruce Ismay, was abroad, survived, and was rescued from a lifeboat sent from the Carpathia.

As media communications, there were two persons involved from White Star. Harold Bride, a radio operator on the Titanic who worked for Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company, one of the survivors picked up by Carpathia. He wrote the first account of the tragedy that he sent to the New York Times by wire from the rescue ship. Phillip A.S. Franklin, who had been hired to head White Star’s New York office, called together a kind of crisis communication team.

Headlines after the tragedy

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The morning before the sinking, New York Times ran a story announcing that the “The New Giantess Titanic” would soon arrive in New York, as part of a PR campaign of brand-awareness.

Other newspapers’ headline indicated that the editors were much less aware of accurate details of the story. Many newspapers assumed that the passengers were rescued, if not everyone, the majority. After the first press conference, the journalists were so amazed of the official news that the Titanic sank, that they all left to call the news and not hear the rest of the details.

Beyond the tragedy and the impressive amount of lives lost in the accident, after 100 years, the Titanic still remains an interesting subject to discuss, from many points of view.

Better tomorrow,

PR Pret-a-Porter.

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