Category Archives: Crisis Communication

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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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Attorney Client Privilege: What Does it Mean for PR?

Public relations practitioners and attorneys often find themselves on opposite sides of the fence when dealing with crisis communication situations.

PR folks encourage their clients to be honest and transparent in a crisis, admit to any wrongdoing, show compassion and contrition and move on. Attorneys, who are paid to assume the worst, will encourage the client to admit to and say nothing.

As a marketing communications firm with extensive experience handling a wide variety of crises on behalf of clients, our GroundFloor Media (GFM) experts have learned that attorneys can be our best friends.

One of the key topics that PR practitioners should become very familiar with is attorney client privilege. As one attorney recently shared, start from the premise that everything we do and write is discoverable. Simply put, our work, including all client emails, plans, written communications (all drafts), texts and Skypes could be subpoenaed if your client is involved in litigation.

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Tips to Rebuilding Online Reputation

reputation-balloon_02The saying goes, it takes 20 years to build your reputation, and five minutes to ruin it.

And with social media, you can lose it in even less time. Think about how long it takes to write a tweet. The good news is that for whatever reason a reputation is trashed, steps can be taken to repair it.

As part of GroundFloor Media’s service line offerings, we help businesses, organizations and individuals with reputation management issues. Tools we use include earned and paid media campaigns, enhancing social media and online presence and community outreach.

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How Will Chipotle’s Crisis and Recovery Compare?

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 3.47.05 PMAs Chipotle’s woes continue to unfold in the new year, GroundFloor Media wonders about the top crises of the past year and where Chipotle fit in the crisis spectrum. Chipotle had plenty of company in 2015: from Volkswagen lying about its emissions tests to the Ashley Madison data breach that disclosed the identities of 37 million users, to Subway and the child pornography charges against the company’s longtime pitchman. Since Chipotle’s issues involved serious incidents of food poisoning across numerous states, can this homegrown Colorado success story ever recover to its previous glory?

There have been other highly publicized food crises involving restaurants over the past decade, and GroundFloor Media took a look to see how these restaurants have fared since they made headlines.

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Crisis Management and Responding to the Media

GroundFloor Media Crisis ResponseA communications crisis can take many forms — they can be internal, external, online or in the media.

Having an established crisis plan always helps, even if it is generic and has basic strategies and messages. For crisis events that involve the media, here are some tips to follow that may keep the media from further inflating the issue.

During a crisis, be prepared to provide the media:

  • Information in a timely manner. Prevent information vacuums where speculation and rumor can grow and have a serious impact on the situation. Proactively let them know when to expect updates.
  • Facts, sources and relevant materials. Have easy-to-read, continuously updated materials, printed or online, with information.
  • Readily available points of contact. Identify people who can speak with the media directly and/or provide 24-hour contact information. Remember, the media generally does not work regular 8 to 5 hours.

Find out more about Crisis Management and how GroundFloor Media’s Rapid Response team can help your company prepared and respond.

In A Crisis, Make Friends With Legal Counsel

crisis and legal representationDuring a crisis, it is important to engage legal counsel early in the process both for strategy and to preserve attorney-client privilege.

Many crises start out as legal issues or will lead to legal issues, and it is important to protect your strategy and communications from the other side. Here are a couple of quick tips to help, but remember that everything you say in an email or write down is likely discoverable.

Quick Legal Checklist

  • Include legal counsel in strategy calls
  • Include legal counsel in all 
correspondence, particularly when developing strategy and content documents
  • Get sign-off on strategy and communications from legal counsel
  • Get regular updates from the legal team on case developments, particularly on upcoming legal events that may garner media coverage

Read more after the jump…