Category Archives: Crisis Communication

GroundFloor Media Expert Quoted on WikiLeaks CIA Crisis

CIA_Spying_Through_TVs_PR_Brand_CrisisIn an unprecedented leak of C.I.A documents, WikiLeaks released on Tuesday thousands of pages describing software tools and techniques used by the agency to break into smartphones, computers and even Internet-connected televisions.

For companies around the world, this should be setting off alarm bells. If the CIA can get hacked, what about you? GroundFloor Media’s Gil Rudawsky offers some advice to a reporter Ragan.com.

GroundFloor Media Crisis Expert

Organizations can perhaps mitigate the damage of leaks by having a plan in place to respond when they do happen, says Gil Rudawsky, vice president of GroundFloor Media.

“This is another alarm bell for all clients dealing with sensitive information that anything you say or email can potentially become public knowledge,” Rudawsky says. “If the CIA can get hacked or has a leak, what about businesses that spend millions of dollars less on maintaining secrecy of proprietary information?”

Read the entire article and what it means to your company.

Biggest PR Disasters of 2016

As 2016 comes to a close, we take time to reflect on the year’s biggest PR disasters:

lochteRYAN LOCHTE … An Olympic swimmer perpetually overshadowed by Michael Phelps finally finds the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Ryan Lochte is an accomplished Olympian who in almost any era would be recognized as one of the greatest swimmers of all time. Unfortunately for Lochte, though, he swims in the Michael Phelps era. That frustration may have contributed to his decision to “over-exaggerate” – his term ­– the details of an alleged armed robbery at the Olympics in Brazil. After video emerged of Lochte and other U.S. swimmers appearing to vandalize a gas station bathroom, the armed robbery started looking more like a request for restitution. Lochte apologized, but the consequences were swift: sponsors Speedo and Polo Ralph Lauren dropped him immediately, and he solidified his spot as an Olympic punch line for generations to come.

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SAMSUNG … What do the global electronics giant’s mobile phones and washing machines have in common? They both explode.

It was a tough year for Samsung, who twice found itself at the top of the list of the year’s biggest safety recalls. First, it was the company’s flagship mobile phone, the Galaxy 7, some of which were spontaneously exploding. It got so bad that the Department of Transportation eventually banned the phones from all U.S. airline flights. And then Samsung was forced to recall 2.8 million washing machines because they could explode. That caused a viral sensation because no one could really wrap their heads around how a washing machine could explode. But YouTube videos gave us our answer, much to Samsung’s dismay.

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…

Why Swallowing Your Pride Never Seems To Go Completely Out of Style

(Photo: Todd Heisler/Rocky Mountain News)

(Photo: Todd Heisler/Rocky Mountain News)

It seems that with each passing day, the era for digging in your heels, drawing lines in the sand and shouting “how dare you?!” becomes more and more pronounced. I was reminded of that last month as I watched a very public and painful saga play out between former coworkers.

It all started when former FOX31 Denver investigative reporter Heidi Hemmat took to her personal blog on Thanksgiving day to air grievances with her former employer. Mind you, these grievances were at the very least deemed worthy of headlines locally (see: Denver Post), nationally (see: New York Post) and internationally (see: The Daily Mail).

Hemmat said she received death threats from a man who had not only been put out of business but convicted of fraud on the basis of her reporting. These were threats, Hemmat claimed, that had been substantiated by the man’s psychiatrist. If nothing else, I remember hearing about these threats shortly after Hemmat became aware of them, as I was working for the Denver TV station as its digital content editor at the time.

Read more after the jump…

Don’t Waste the Spotlight

At its essence, crisis communications is about taking external negativity and finding a way to transform it into a positive. Are you a business that made a mistake? Find a way to impress your customers with how you responded. They’ll forgive you.

The Cincinnati Zoo ignored this principle when it shut down its Twitter account two months ago in the face of cyberbullying trolls who inundated it with memes and attacks over the death of its beloved gorilla, Harambe. As PRWeek reported:

“The zoo has been the target of keyboard critics since May, after a boy fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo, and zookeepers shot and killed Harambe, a 17-year-old silverback gorilla, to save the child’s life. Since then, Harambe has turned into a source of myriad internet memes.”

The Cincinnati Zoo had a spotlight on it, and instead of finding a way to withstand the pressure and use the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to its mission, it chose to run and hide. Standing up in the heat of a crisis is never easy, but it speaks to what you are as an organization, to your core values.

The Cincinnati Zoo could have used the spotlight to engage the community. It could have developed a program to support a gorilla conservation initiative, or created elementary and middle school curriculum that could be used in schools to educate children about gorillas.

And more than anything, it could have earned goodwill from the community by responding to the ridiculous barbs in a dignified and respectable manner. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “It is amazing how reasonable you can look when your opponents are unhinged lunatics*.”

The Cincinnati Zoo finally restored its Twitter account last week, but the damage has already been done and the opportunities have already been missed.

*Lincoln may have never said that.

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…

The double-edged sword of social media

Pop quiz: Is Twitter an opportunity or a threat for your business? The answer, of course, is both.

Social media allows businesses to connect more directly with customers and prospective customers than in any time in history. And it also allows competitors and detractors to screw with your brand more than in any time in history.

The stakes are real, and so is the data. A recent study conducted by a professor at Belgium’s University of Leuven found:

  • 94 percent of all PR crises either started or were fanned by Twitter, and online trolls were a “key catalyst” for spreading awareness of PR issues
  • 19 percent of PR crises actually broke on Twitter, making the social media platform a bigger threat to brands than Facebook (16 percent), YouTube (4 percent) and blogs (4 percent)
  • Consumers are more comfortable criticizing brands on Twitter. Users are 17 percent more likely to send a negative Tweet than publish a negative Facebook post.

These figures are as stunning as they are frightening. If social media monitoring isn’t part of your marketing budget, you are making a serious mistake.

Read more after the jump…

GroundFloor Media Crisis Expert Quoted on EgyptAir Tragedy: Don’t Bicker, Sympathize

(Photo Credit: WikiCommons)

(Photo Credit: WikiCommons)

GroundFloor Media’s Gil Rudawsky was quoted last week by communications publisher Ragan.com on how EgyptAir was handling communications in the hours following the disappearance of the airline’s jetliner.

In the article, Rudawsky acknowledged that it was a fast-moving story that news outlets were covering round-the-clock. In the initial hours, media was speculating on the cause, without any supporting facts. EgyptAir went on the offensive and chastised the media for jumping to conclusions.

Read more after the jump…

How to Get on the Good Side of Legal

More and more, as public relations practitioners, especially if you work with clients on crisis communication, you will work with attorneys – either the client’s in-house attorneys or outside counsel. Bill Ojile, an attorney and partner at Armstrong Teasdale and former GFM client, recently met with the GFM team to share his insights on how to effectively work with legal counsel.

According to Bill, lawyers’ jobs are to make people uncomfortable, to ask a lot of questions and to be skeptical. He also noted that lawyers don’t write for everyday people, and they don’t write for the media; they write for every contingency. With that said, how do PR people and lawyers co-exist and together create the very best communications and outcomes for their mutual clients? Bill provided the following tips for how to navigate the legal waters:

Read more after the jump…

AP Style Alert: Don’t Capitalize “Internet” or “Web”

CfC8A9LWQAMsHF_For all of the copy editors, grammar nerds, journalists and language style sticklers, there is news of a relatively big-ish change in the rules.

As of June 2016, The Associated Press, AP for short, is updating its rules to lowercase the words “internet” and “web” in all instances, including web page, the web, web browser.

The AP Stylebook is a media and business standby, and offers a guide in grammatical correctness and language nuance. What’s behind the change? Some wordsmith bloggers are saying that it marks the inclusion of the Internet (uppercase here since rules are not in effect yet) in our culture and expansion of the meaning of the word.

Read more after the jump…