Author Archives: Gil Rudawsky

Mid-2017 Crisis Communications Overview

Adidas crisis communications responseHere is a recap of the some of the best crisis communications gaffes, courtesy of PR Daily and Meltwater, that you may not have heard of. Be sure to check out the takeaways at the end.

Shea Moisture
This company featured a series of television commercials that profiled different types of hair types, but unfortunately they showed a limited number of minorities in their ads. They issued an apology: “We really f-ed this one up. Please know that our intention was not – and would never be – to disrespect our community, and as such, we are pulling this piece immediately because it does not represent what we intended to communicate.”

Adidas
In a tone-deaf blunder, Adidas sent an email out Boston Marathon participants with the subject line: “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon.” It didn’t take long for them to apologize, and the crisis dissipated.

Juicero
Bloomberg news showed how a $400 Wi-Fi-enabled juicer was basically just a ruse, in a video showing a person producing the same amount of juice as the specialty juicer. Reporters were able to wring 7.5 ounces of juice from the specialty packs in a minute and a half. The machine yielded 8 ounces in about two minutes. The startup this week cut its staff by 25 percent, and it offered customers refunds.

Fyre Festival
Billy McFarland and Ja Rule launched a luxury music festival at a private island in the Bahamas, and tickets ran from $2,500 to $250,000 for “deluxe” packages. Instead of the promised extravagant catering, beach yoga sessions, bikini-clad models and yachts to lounge on, attendees found a “disaster tent city” with scant rations. Instagram photos documented sorrowful bread-and-cheese sandwiches and dreadful accommodations. Social media users had a field day mocking the woes of the well-to-do audience and the downfall of the much-hyped event. A criminal investigation is under way and lawsuits abound. Ja Rule’s response: The whole world knows Fyre’s name now,” he said. “This will pass, guys.”

Takeaways
With any crisis situation, including the ones above, having a response plan beforehand can help, and listening and responding to social media in real-time can help turn the tide. Keep these points in mind:

  • When you mess up, genuinely apologize and share what you’ll do to prevent similar mistakes in the future.
  • When in doubt, talk to your community; they’re the people who already support you.
  • Treat your community with respect and listen to what it has to say. If you’re only interested in the bottom line, it will show.

Click Bait and Misleading Headlines

Click Bait and Misleading HeadlinesWe’ve written about media click-baiting in this space before. Recently one media outlet came out with a defense of the digital trickery, although they wouldn’t go as far as to call it what it really is – click bait.

Can I write this without sounding creepy? News organizations (many of them, anyway) track what you read and what you don’t.

“It’s changing how we do journalism,” said Sacramento Bee opinion editor Joyce Terhaar. “So what works – and what doesn’t? Provocative headlines.”

Read more after the jump…

Media Questions During A Crisis

newsIt’s difficult to prepare for a crisis, particularly one that involves media coverage.

To help prepare, here is a list of the most commonly asked questions by the media to serve as a general guide.

Big? picture, journalists are likely to ask six primary questions in a crisis: who, what, where, when, why, and how. They will relate to five broad topics:

  1. What happened?
  2. What caused it to happen?
  3. What does it mean?
  4. Who is to blame?
  5. What are you doing to ensure it does not happen again?

Of course, only some will apply but this comprehensive list of questions is a good start to prepare you and your team for the next crisis:

77 Questions Commonly Asked by Journalists During a Crisis

Read more after the jump…

The Art of an Apology Tested in the Past Week

sorry_desuIt’s been a week of very public apologies: Pepsi, United Airlines and White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Without getting into the merits of each crisis communication instance, since we have already worn a path around the water cooler, in general there are some best practices to make an effective apology that will at least take a bit of the sting out of a negative situation.

Immediacy: When something goes wrong and your reputation is at stake, the sooner you apologize, the better. This can be difficult, without knowing all the facts and when dealing with legal issues. But, an immediate apology that expresses remorse, admits responsibility, makes amends and promises that it won’t happen again should still feel real without having completed a full investigation.

Use Social Media: Either through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube — apologize on a platform that your target audiences are following. Read more after the jump…

Journalism and Growing Trend of Click-Baiting

HBO’s John Oliver takes on the media’s attempts to sell his show’s content through sensational headlines and clickbait.

As media outlets look to grow their shrinking audiences and advertising budgets, they are turning to popular online platforms to share stories and drive engagement.

The New York Times for instance, is setting the bar for how it presents its stories online, by including video, graphics, podcasts and photos. It’s refreshing compared to the tired ink and paper version that fewer and fewer people find on their door steps each morning. But, as some media outlets are looking to truly engage and embrace online platforms, there are others that are simply driving their audiences to digital properties to drive clicks, which they will somehow count as audience growth and sell to advertisers.

This trend is called clickbait, content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page or to comment, with the goal of growing audiences and digital revenue. It has nothing to do with journalism, although it can be cloaked as such.

Read more after the jump…

Respond to a Social Media Crisis #LikeABoss

twitterThis year created a library full of social media crisis communication case studies, both what to do and what not to do.

Heading into 2017, we advise all of our clients to refresh their social media crisis communication plans given the rapid growth and updates with social communication channels. To help get started, here are a few basic points that should be part of a plan:

Read more after the jump…

Reprise: What You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You

bhribahcqaax1h9Given the non-stop media chatter about leaked or hacked emails and recorded conversations, here is an updated blog post from several years ago with tips on how to keep yourself or your company out of the media cycle.

The scrappy Aspen Daily News has one of the best mottos in the business: “If You Don’t Want It Printed, Don’t Let It Happen.”

In the world of communications, we have a similar motto that we share with clients who are facing a pending crisis or are in the midst of one: “Anything You Say, Write, Email, Skype or iChat Can Be Used Against You.” It’s not as jocular as the News’ motto. But it just happens to be the truth in our increasingly litigious and curious world.

Clients can face all types of situations that are sensitive, controversial and deal with legal issues. While the lawyer’s role is to protect clients from and defend them during litigation, crisis communicators are focused on managing, protecting and — if needed — rebuilding the client’s reputation. They work closely with companies on strategy, messaging, stakeholder communications and media relations before, during and after a crisis.

Read more after the jump…

Reports: Denver Post Hedge Fund Owner Squeezing Profits

The Denver Newspaper Guild held a rally outside The Denver Post condemning downsizing actions by owner Alden Global Capital. Provided by Denver Newspaper Guild

The Denver Newspaper Guild held a rally outside The Denver Post condemning downsizing actions by owner Alden Global Capital. Provided by Denver Newspaper Guild

Media covering itself is always a challenge particularly among competitors. But alternative weekly Westword did a good job of detailing the changes and challenges facing The Denver Post in a long-form article this week. Also, this week 5280 magazine did a piece on the Post’s new normal.

The focus of the articles is on its hedge fund owner, and its track record of squeezing profits at the expense of a diminishing product. The Westwood piece chronicles the failed attempts by the newspaper and its owner, Media News Group, to reinvent itself in the changing media market. In case you don’t want to read the entire article on the Post, here are some highlights:

Read more after the jump…

John Oliver “Reports” On Loss of Newspapers, Journalism

John Oliver is witty, profane, irreverent and dead serious, all at the same time.
So when the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” took on print journalism as his long-form topic earlier this month, the result was insightful and devastating.

His 19-minute tribute to local newspaper journalism covered what those in the industry already know, but he presented it to a wider, general audience not familiar with much more than simply the industry is on life-support. He offered the “why” and, more importantly, “what it means.” As he tells it, quite accurately, local newspapers are the bread and butter of journalism and create most if not all content for television reports.

To bring home the point of how local newspapers have changed, Oliver and his team created a comic version for a fake movie trailer based on the journalism biographical movie “Spotlight.” It’s deadly how accurate it is.

Take a look at the entire segment:

PR Complaints About Journalists

Changing JournalismMedia complaints about public relations pros are well known: too many lame pitches, misleading pitches, ill-timed pitches and incessant follow-ups.   But it’s a two-way street.  PR folks can be just as frustrated with with the media. Digiday offers some pet peeves that agencies have with the media. I can attest that all of them are based in some reality. Here are some of the highlights submitted by PR firms to Digiday, along with some personal experiences: Read more after the jump…