Tag Archives: crisis communication

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.

When A Private Crisis Strategy Session Becomes Front Page News

Crisis Communications Lessons: When A Private Crisis Strategy Session Becomes Front Page News | GroundFloor Media PR Agency | Denver, COAs part of crisis communications training with our clients, we emphasize that unless you are in a closed-door office or in a private location, anything you say in public can be used against you. This lesson, once again, resonated loud and clear in a Sunday New York Times scoop.

Last week, Denver attorney Ty Cobb who now works for the White House to coordinate its response into investigations into Russia’s connection with President Trump, was having a strategy lunch with the president’s lead outside attorney on the Russia investigations, John Dowd.

Little did they know, a Times reporter was also having lunch, at the next table.

Read more after the jump…

PR Homerun: Turning Lemons into Lemonade

USC Issues Management Win | PR Homerun: Turning Lemons into Lemonade | GroundFloor Media PR AgencyNegative media and social media coverage abounds, but in increasingly rare instances clients can turn potentially bad news into a positive or at least a learning opportunity.

Sometimes all it takes is a bit of creativity and humor to mitigate an issues management headache. Case in point, recently the University of Southern California unveiled a $700 million project in the heart of Los Angeles. Students from rival University of California at Los Angeles were quick to point out that a statue serving as the centerpiece of the development misspelled the name of “William Shakespeare” by leaving out the last “e” in the bard’s name.

The Tweet that followed: “USC. The only place in America that can unveil a statue as the centerpiece of a $700 million project and manage to misspell Shakespeare.”

Not taking the bait and issuing a stodgy response, USC issued the following statement:

“To E, or not to E, that is the question. Over the centuries his surname has been spelled 20 different ways. USC chose an older spelling because of the ancient feel of the statue, even though it is not the most common form.”

And with that response, the Twittersphere has been weighing in on the debates, with scholars pointing out USC might have a point. Even in his last will and testament, Shakespeare spelled his name two ways (both with an “e” and without an “e”). Also, printed programs from 1664, spelled the name without an “e.”

The Washington Post even had fun with the issue, saying visitors to the University of Southern California might be muttering, “What fools these mortals be,” as they stroll past a statue of the legendary queen of Troy and notice William Shakespeare’s name seemingly misspelled at the base. “To USC officials, it’s much ado about nothing.”

(GroundFloor Media’s Gil Rudawsky is a proud graduate of the University of Southern California.)

 

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…

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…

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…

PR Lessons from “Game of Thrones”

GOT logo for blog

Image Credit: HBO

While not all GFMers watch “Game of Thrones,” there are a number of us who are huge fans. We like to share articles about predictions for upcoming episodes and then rehash all of the action from the previous night’s episode on Monday morning. So when Ragan’s PR Daily put out an article today entitled “8 PR lessons from ‘Game of Thrones,’” I couldn’t help myself – I had to click on it. Their 8 tips were based on quotes by various characters from the show. See below for my take on each:

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…

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.

Read more after the jump…