Tag Archives: Crisis Planning

Crisis Response: Plan, Monitor and Respond

Traditional Media During a Crisis | GroundFloor Media Crisis Communications ExpertsIt’s 2018. When was the last time your company or organization updated its crisis communication plan?

The GroundFloor Media crisis team has been spending time reviewing crisis communication plans for our clients, and we are finding several areas that need updating. For instance, unlike five years ago, most crisis events these days don’t manifest only in the media, so there is a large social media component. Also, response scenarios likely need to be updated as well as key audiences to take into account the likelihood of a crisis happening on social media.

In general, the key theme of a crisis-response plan must be providing clear, honest communications to various audiences that might be impacted by the bad news. The crisis response approach is simple and straightforward, and based on three points:

  1. Don’t cover up
  2. Fix the problem
  3. Apologize and make sure it does not happen again

Here’s an outline of a crisis communications response plan:


  • Identify and prepare for potential issues
  • Communicate with the customer-service and legal teams
  • Get the facts and prepare statements



  • Get in front of the story
  • “No comment” is a last-ditch response
  • Accurately convey your side of the story to all audiences

Find out more about elements of a crisis plan in a Denver Business Journal article I wrote. Also, let us know if your business needs help revising its crisis communication plan.

Takeaways from Hawaii’s False Ballistic Missile Text

Crisis Communications Takeaways from Hawaii’s False Ballistic Missile Text | GroundFloor Media PR AgencyOnly two weeks into 2018, and we have the first crisis communication case study of the year courtesy of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and its false tweet to residents across the island chain warning of a “ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii.”

The January 13 early-morning false alarm had families panicked, saying their goodbyes as they sought shelter from this doomsday scenario. After the threat was discovered to be false, government agencies and the media did all they could to inform people that this was a false alarm. Unfortunately, it took an excruciating 38-minutes to inform the public via text that it was a mistake.

Apparently, since November the agency has been practicing its Cold War-era nuclear warning sirens and online alerts amid growing fears of an attack by North Korea. It was a drop-down issue on a computer program and the employee mistakenly hit the “Missile alert” button instead of “Test missile alert.”

From a crisis communication perspective, here are a couple of takeaways from the incident:
Read more after the jump…

Time to Revisit Your Crisis Communication Plan

Media Interview Tips

Crisis communication plan and risk assessment

With 2017 almost in the books, it’s a good time to review and update your crisis, reputation and issues management communication plan or to think about developing a crisis plan if you don’t already have one.

Each year, GroundFloor Media works with clients to review their plans and ensure they are still accurate in terms of team members, assessment of current risks, messaging, scenarios and responses. For those thinking about putting together a plan, here is an overview of what should be in a plan.

  • Develop a “risk assessment”

    • Identify and prioritize areas of vulnerability
    • Research public perception, emerging issues and business practices
    • Conduct social media research and monitoring
  • Develop a crisis communication and issues management plan, including policies and procedures, audiences, potential scenarios and responses

  • Develop key messages

  • Develop third-party alliances

  • Testing and refinement

  • Conduct crisis communication/messaging training

  • Provide media training for key personnel

  • Evolution, revisions and lessons learned

No company wants to deal with a crisis, but having a tested plan in place will make the experience – and your results – infinitely better. For more information on GroundFloor Media’s crisis experience, please visit our website.

Tips To Up Your Video Game


The way brands engage with consumers is constantly evolving and with that, video consumption is becoming more and more relevant. This week, we’re exploring some new opportunities to take your video game to the next level.

Video Advertising

TechCrunch: Video advertising took a big leap in Q2, according to Smaato
Video advertising is on the rise. According to Smaato, video ad spending was up 142 percent from Q1 and the most popular ad format was full-screen interstitials. Rewarded video formats, where you watch an ad for in-game or in-app rewards, also had 96 percent increase in impressions and a 153 percent increase in ad spend. Read more after the jump…

Mid-2017 Crisis Communications Overview

Adidas crisis communications responseHere is a recap of the some of the best crisis communications gaffes, courtesy of PR Daily and Meltwater, that you may not have heard of. Be sure to check out the takeaways at the end.

Shea Moisture
This company featured a series of television commercials that profiled different types of hair types, but unfortunately they showed a limited number of minorities in their ads. They issued an apology: “We really f-ed this one up. Please know that our intention was not – and would never be – to disrespect our community, and as such, we are pulling this piece immediately because it does not represent what we intended to communicate.”

In a tone-deaf blunder, Adidas sent an email out Boston Marathon participants with the subject line: “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon.” It didn’t take long for them to apologize, and the crisis dissipated.

Bloomberg news showed how a $400 Wi-Fi-enabled juicer was basically just a ruse, in a video showing a person producing the same amount of juice as the specialty juicer. Reporters were able to wring 7.5 ounces of juice from the specialty packs in a minute and a half. The machine yielded 8 ounces in about two minutes. The startup this week cut its staff by 25 percent, and it offered customers refunds.

Fyre Festival
Billy McFarland and Ja Rule launched a luxury music festival at a private island in the Bahamas, and tickets ran from $2,500 to $250,000 for “deluxe” packages. Instead of the promised extravagant catering, beach yoga sessions, bikini-clad models and yachts to lounge on, attendees found a “disaster tent city” with scant rations. Instagram photos documented sorrowful bread-and-cheese sandwiches and dreadful accommodations. Social media users had a field day mocking the woes of the well-to-do audience and the downfall of the much-hyped event. A criminal investigation is under way and lawsuits abound. Ja Rule’s response: The whole world knows Fyre’s name now,” he said. “This will pass, guys.”

With any crisis situation, including the ones above, having a response plan beforehand can help, and listening and responding to social media in real-time can help turn the tide. Keep these points in mind:

  • When you mess up, genuinely apologize and share what you’ll do to prevent similar mistakes in the future.
  • When in doubt, talk to your community; they’re the people who already support you.
  • Treat your community with respect and listen to what it has to say. If you’re only interested in the bottom line, it will show.

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…

GroundFloor Media’s Gil Rudawsky Shares Crisis Response Insights in Marketing Publication

GilThe lines between public relations and marketing continue to blur as Marketing News, the monthly publication for the American Marketing Association, recently focused on creating rapid-response messaging for a crisis or opportunity.

The article, titled Lickety-Split, covered the example of Oreo and how its parent company and marketing agency quickly capitalized on the 2013 Super Bowl blackout by posting a photo of the cookie on the brand’s social media pages with the slogan, “You can still dunk in the dark.” The image was shared thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter and generated millions of earned media impressions. The author, with help from Gil Rudawsky, provides five tips for developing and executing rapid-response messaging.

Develop a brand voice. Oreo had been building a brand voice for years through various campaigns on social media, so when the Super Bowl opportunity presented itself, the team had the pieces in place to respond quickly (and Oreo was a Super Bowl advertiser).

Read more after the jump…

Social Media Crisis Case Study: “GW Housing Horrors” Facebook Page

“Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised.”

–   Denis Waitley

Many of us have several of those “remember how bad our college dorm rooms were” stories. Thanks to Facebook, several George Washington University students won’t have to “remember,” they can just chronicle their experience in real time, and for the entire world to see.

From the "GW Housing Horrors" Facebook page

From the “GW Housing Horrors” Facebook page

On July 30 a new Facebook group titled “GW Housing Horrors” launched with “the intent of exposing the true state of GW campus housing,” and the goal of “bring(ing) attention to GW’s blatant negligence and irresponsible housing practices.” In other words, they’re calling out the George Washington housing department for extremely dirty dorm facilities.

Read more after the jump…

The Year in Social Media Crises – What We’ve Learned

As social media continued to weave its way into the day-to-day life of more and more of the population, there were no shortages of social media issues or crises in 2012. But rather than share a “Don’t Do This” advice column, we’ve compiled this brief list of things we’ve learned, or been regularly reminded of, in 2012.

1) Social media posts are (still) not made in a vacuum.

In what is probably the five-billionth time this has been said – everything you post on social networks is discoverable. That includes opinions, cheap shots, drive-by comments and even the tongue-in-cheek responses that will most likely be taken the wrong way by someone. Just as you try not to say the first thing that pops into your mind in front of your boss, your mother, or your children…pause before you post. Do you really want everyone in the world to read that post? And if they do, how will they react?

Related 2012 learning: We saw this dozens of times in 2012 – when you manage a social media profile for a business, check, double-check, and triple-check that your personal posts aren’t going up on the business profile (see “Montana Tourism” below).

2012 Examples:Screen Shot 2012-12-12 at 1.04.32 PM

2) There’s a fine, yet distinct line between “outreach” and “spam”

Some people get it, most don’t. Reach out to people or other organizations. Talk to them, not at them. If you’re planning to automate your social media posts or responses in 2013, you should probably reconsider.

2012 Examples:

3) Don’t ignore the “human” factor – in fact, obey the “human” factor

Even if your auto-posts or your SEO-charged blog comments aren’t timed as poorly as the posts listed above, if you’re not genuine, it’s still apparent. Do your homework before interacting with people on social networks for marketing purposes, and by all means, show compassion if you are facing a crisis situation.

2012 Examples:

4) In a crisis, social media can give businesses a voice of their own

We talk a lot about crises playing out on social networks, but don’t forget that when used correctly, social media platforms can help businesses tell the other side of the story.

2012 Example:

  • Hurricane Sandy provided multiple examples of the good, and bad, social media can create in a crisis

5) Timing is everything

This is somewhat of a recap of all the reminders above, but when you post, what you say, how you say it, and how quick you are to respond all have a distinct impact on the fallout from any number of social media situations. A response, sooner rather than later, can mean the difference between a customer who feels cared for, and a social media debacle.

2012 Examples:

~ Jim Licko


6 essentials for your crisis response plan

Crisis communication is becoming an integral part of public relations.

As some point, every company is going to have to quickly switch gears from proactive to reactive, and how the company’s reputation survives often comes down to how it responds. Remember the classic episode of the television show “WKRP in Cincinnati” when the station held a turkey drop from a helicopter? It’s a prime example of a PR stunt gone bad.

WKRP’s Les Nessman, played by Richard Sanders chronicled their last flight:

Though this is a hilarious fictional miscalculation, it’s not too far out of the ordinary. Remember BP’s CEO going sailing with his family after the Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster, or automotive CEOs taking corporate jets to D.C. to ask for a bailout? You can’t make this stuff up.

When a crisis does happen, a targeted, prompt response that addresses the issue can often diffuse the situation. A coverup response will simply fan the flames.

Here are some crisis communication response tips that might’ve helped WKRP, or other companies, respond to a disastrous PR event:

  • Be targeted. Focus messaging on the right audience.
  • Be prompt. This shows the company is addressing the issues, and it can diffuse a negative situation from spiraling by presenting the facts early on.
  • Be concise but comprehensive. Crisis communication should be compact, delivering a lot of information in a small space and time.
  • Be transparent. Perhaps more so than any other content you create, crisis communication must be honest and clear if the company’s audiences are going to trust you to get through the event.
  • Be clear. Articulate what the company is doing and, whenever possible, how long the process might take. The latter can be difficult to estimate, so don’t commit to a timeframe if you aren’t sure of it; but if you know a solution is not imminent, it’s best to be honest with customers about that fact.
  • Be compassionate. Regardless of the source of the problem, in most issues management situations you have let your customers/consumers/employees down; acknowledge this, and then get to work to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

With regard to the last tip, you may recall WKRP station manager Arthur Carlson’s honest, pained response: “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

(This post also appears on Ragan’s PRDaily.)