Category Archives: Issues Management

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…

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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Beware the Donalds

RumsfeldTrumpEvery few years a mavericky, break-all-the-rules type of leader bubbles up into the public consciousness. He wows people with his “blunt” talk, “refreshing candor” and willingness to address complex issues in a very simple and straightforward manner.

A decade ago it was Donald Rumsfeld. While U.S. Defense Secretary, his treatise on “known knowns and unknown unknowns” made him the darling of the lecture circuit. It even resulted in a book deal – Known and Unknown: A Memoir. And much more recently, Donald Trump has climbed up the GOP presidential nominee rankings through a sometimes-incoherent strategy of attacking almost anything that moves. Supporters admire his “leadership” and “take-action” style, if not his depth and nuance.

Leaders like the Donalds usually have a shelf-life, but the internal and external damage they may do can live far beyond the FOX News and CNN news cycles. The Donalds are charismatic, and serve as role models for many other leaders, including C-level executives.

CEOs who tire of having constraints placed on them with media will point to people such as the Donalds as proof that they should be able to speak bluntly and without talking points. After all, the Donalds prove that people love outspoken leaders who are not afraid of saying what people are secretly thinking.

So here’s some free advice for PR people who work with C-level executives: Don’t let them listen to leaders like the Donalds. Both Rumsfeld and Trump are outliers, and CEOs who seek to model themselves after them will quickly find out that you can’t count on lightning striking every time. And if they try, the clean up will not be pretty.

Free Advice for an Ice Cream-Loving Texas Billionaire

Marketers have long known that constraining supply often piques demand. Coors, In-N-Out Burger and Blue Bell ice cream are all examples of products that have created national reputations, in part, by not being available nationwide. People desired what they couldn’t have, and absence definitely made the heart grow fonder.

That level of customer fanaticism can help propel brands to amazing heights, but it also means that customers feel personally invested, and that can create complicated situations when the brand does not, in their eyes, live up to its brand promise.

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Is Controversy Good for Ratings?

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 2.45.29 PMSaturday Night Live (SNL) is no stranger to controversy and pushing the boundaries of comedy.

The latest controversy has to do with a skit about ISIS that was a parody of a Toyota commercial that ran during the Super Bowl where a father drops his daughter off at the airport as she’s embarking on her military career. Chances are the firestorm that’s taking place on media and social media will subside soon, but not before it drives thousands, if not millions of people to watch the video on its site and tune back in to SNL.

So, is controversy good for ratings? You bet. NBC Nightly News’ ratings are up due to the embarrassment it recently faced when Brian Williams admitted to “embellishing” his wartime experiences.

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How Much Damage Did That Tweet Cause?

It was bad, but did it hurt the company's reputation?

It was bad, but did it hurt the company’s reputation?

As we head into two weeks of Super Bowl coverage, we’ll see more and more about “what brands will be tweeting” from the publications that cover the marketing and communications industry. The articles brought up a concept that I first came across at a South by Southwest session back in 2011: Do even the worst social media flub ups cause real repetitional  damage for a brand?

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PR Daily Quotes GFM Team Member Gil Rudawsky On UVA Response

The University of Virginia has come under fire lately due to a recent Rolling Stone article that highlighted a purported gang rape allegedly carried out by a campus fraternity has drawn attention to the way school officials have handled sexual assault allegations.

Gil Rudawsky, VP of Ground Floor Media, says Sullivan’s message is not only “too little, too late,” but also comes across as defensive and doesn’t offer an enduring solution.

“The statement does little to sway those outside the university that there is a definitive plan in place to address the issues at hand,” Rudawsky says. “There are only general statements, not a game plan for fixing the issues.”

Read the full story at PR Daily.

The Power of a Sincere Apology

David LuizWhile the World Cup has come to an end, at least one message will endure for some time. There aren’t enough words – or tears – to erase the pain of a nation as Brazil was defeated 7-1 by Germany in the World Cup semifinals. However, a heartfelt, sincere apology by team captain David Luiz had to have been appreciated by his compatriots.

Often in times of crisis or defeat, it’s easy to point fingers at others and shun the blame. However in business, as in life, a sincere apology goes a long way toward taking the edge off of the situation.

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Crisis Communication Plan: How To Plan For a Crisis

Photo courtesy Orange County Archives via Flickr

Photo courtesy Orange County Archives via Flickr

As communicators with nearly 20 years of experience each, the team at GFM has seen almost every kind of communications crisis out there. From crises you can plan for – such as announcing a bankruptcy filing – to those you can’t see coming – like a natural disaster forcing a temporary business closure – there’s one common thread: having a tested crisis communications plan in place makes all the difference.

Whether you’re drafting your very first crisis plan or refreshing an old version, here are some tips for making sure your plan is comprehensive:

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General Motors: Why Euphemisms Don’t Work

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 11.53.32 AMGeneral Motors (GM) continues to take its lumps in the media, social media and in popular culture (a recent spoof on Saturday Night Live) related to the recall of more than 2 million cars, the Chevy Cobalt, for faulty ignition switches. The issues were first uncovered in 2001, but recalls didn’t begin until earlier this year. One of the key factors that prompted congressional hearings is misleading language that didn’t elevate the faulty ignition switches to a “critical fix.”

In particular, an article in Forbes points to a culture where confusing or vague language (hint, euphemisms) may be responsible for the inaction of leadership within the company.

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