Category Archives: Reputation Management

Air Force General Anti-Racism Response Video Goes Viral

Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria’s address last week to Air Force Academy students and staff in response racial attacks that appeared on message boards at the school set the bar for effective crisis response. It’s no surprise that the video has gone viral.

His five-minute speech, during which he encouraged those in attendance to film and share on social media, is worth watching in full.

PR Daily broke down his address, highlighting several key points that made it so effective:

  • Message was unambiguous
  • Strong closing
  • Built on the group’s collective power
  • Demand for action
  • Avoided politics
  • Strong delivery emphasized audience connection

Adding to these, and having worked with clients on crisis responses, one aspect that gave the address such impact was its authenticity. Surely everyone who heard it live, watched it on YouTube or on one of the many media sites that picked it up, walked away with no doubts that Silveria set the right tone for condemning the actions, and for moving forward as the preeminent educational institution that represents the Air Force and the country.

London Could Boot Uber Based on Reputation Issues

UBER_(1)We all know that a poor reputation is harmful to a business’ bottom line, but rarely is that connection so clear as in the case of Uber. We learned this weekend that the car service could be out business in London as soon as the end of this month, and the reason cited by regulators is “a lack of corporate responsibility.”

As The Wall Street Journal reported:

London’s top transport authority stripped Uber Technologies Inc. of its private-car hire license in the city, threatening to shut the company out of one of its biggest markets.

The surprise decision presents another obstacle for the company as it tries to pare heavy losses and right itself amid a series of scandals, probes and board infighting. The authority, Transport for London, cited “a lack of corporate responsibility” that it said could undermine public safety and security, and said it won’t issue Uber a new license when its current one expires Sept. 30.

What do regulators mean by a lack of corporate responsibility? In short, a bad reputation. You can point to a number of issues over the past two years ranging from the FBI investigating its nefarious “Project Greyball” to allegations of false advertising to sexual harassment claims, and the list goes on and on.

London is an important market for Uber, and it represents approximately 3.25 million users – nearly a third of its active user base in Europe. The annual gross revenue hit to Uber could total $400 million, about 5 percent of the company’s overall gross revenue.

Often, trying to calculate the precise damage a crisis does to a brand’s reputation is extraordinarily difficult. With Uber, we may be able to start with $400 million. The additional damage that the company has suffered by those jumping on the #DeleteUber bandwagon continues to be difficult to quantify, but it may be many times the damage that London could cause it.

Owner of Popular Denver Restaurant Regularly Puts Online Critics on Blast

Onefold Denver restaurant owner Mark Nery is a regular critic of his online critics (Photo: Instagram)

Onefold Denver restaurant owner, Mark Nery, is a regular critic of his online critics (Photo: Instagram)

Consider your audience’s response.

That’s a cardinal rule for consumer brands when developing digital content. But does the same now go for consumers aiming to critique these brands online?

In an age in which critics have become brands unto themselves, that notion is certainly an interesting one. And one of my favorite Denver restaurants provides a captivating case study.

If you’re a brunch junkie, you’ve done yourself a disservice if you haven’t been to Onefold in Denver, a quaint spot that artfully weaves comfort foods of the Asian, French and Mexican persuasions. That is to say, there’s always a line out the door and it’s highly likely you’ll be dining amidst a sea of chambray and skinny jeans.

Read more after the jump…

Using Bad Press to Educate the Masses

A couple weeks ago, the Golden State Warriors finally found out they would be playing the Utah Jazz in the second round of the NBA Playoffs. To many Warriors players, the news came as a disappointment, but not because they were concerned about facing the Jazz in a seven-game series. The confident Warriors were simply hoping they’d be spending their off nights in a more exciting city than Salt Lake.

Read more after the jump…

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…

Deconstructing Hope Solo’s Olympics Implosion

Hope_Solo_(16539697180)In public relations, it often is the small things that make big differences. The U.S. Women’s National Team goalie, Hope Solo, learned that lesson the hard way when she was suspended from the team for six months this week.

What were the little things that went so wrong for Hope?

  1. She used colorful language. Many athletes engage in sour grapes after a tough loss by complaining that the better team actually lost. They will use expressions like, “They didn’t win; we gave it to them.” Hope expressed those thoughts, too, but she made her quote more colorful by calling the Swedes “a bunch of cowards.” In my non-scientific survey, the word “cowards” appeared in 100 percent of the media coverage. Journalists love colorful, which can work for you or against you.
  2. She had priors. No criminal appearing before a judge would expect to catch a break when he or she has been convicted before. And Hope should have known that she had little margin for error based on her previous actions this year alone that included a domestic violence arrest and allowing her inebriated husband to drive a U.S. Soccer vehicle.
  3. She set the stage. A lesson that every professional wrestler learns is that it is okay if they love you or hate you; it is indifference that will end your career quickly. Hope loves the spotlight, and she established herself as the anti-hero of the Rio Olympics before she even left the U.S. by tweeting photos of herself in heavy-duty, mosquito-proof outfits. She thumbed her nose at her Olympics hosts, and she was already the center of attention when she arrived.
  4. She violated the spirit of the Olympics – When athletes are paid mercenaries (i.e., performing in for-profit leagues while being paid millions of dollars), fans tend to be pretty forgiving for lapses in etiquette. But when you act like a jerk on arguably the biggest sports stage in the world that is also synonymous with sportsmanship, it becomes a problem.

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…

Tips On Identifying A Social Media Crisis

reputation managementSocial media is a great breeding ground for a crisis, whether justified or not.

But before your company or client pulls out all the stops to try to save its reputation, here are some common sense criteria to help navigate through the storm:

Where is the negative issue brewing?

Negative comments on your company’s social media pages should most likely be addressed as these comments are now on your “home turf.” Issues that fall into this category include negative comments or reviews by members or the general public. Since this commentary is considered to be on your home turf, it is worth a response. This does not mean comments found outside own social media properties will not be addressed; but it is a good first question to ask.

How “loud” is the comment?

The Internet is a BIG place, and without some filters a lot of time could be spent addressing everyone who shares negative issues on social media. Ask how much “noise” is being made about this particular topic? Pay attention to commenters with a small audience, but don’t fan the flames. More visible outlets might need a more proactive strategy.

Is the information blatantly inaccurate?

While many postings are about an individual’s specific situation and thus somewhat subjective, occasionally true misinformation will be posted online. In these cases, it is important to correct the facts.

What is the tone or topic?

If the tone of an internal conversation or post on a message board is not overtly negative, a response may not be needed. That said, if the comment raises slight concern, it should be addressed appropriately.

And remember to have a thick skin.