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…)
Posts tagged ‘crisis’
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.
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.
At 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.
• 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.
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
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 ?
Can 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.
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.
“If 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 ?
A 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
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.