Tag Archives: Crisis Planning

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.)

The blurred line between crisis communication and issues management

Crisis Communication versus Issues Management

Some mistakenly use the term “crisis communication” interchangeably with issues management. While they are similar, they are two independent beasts.

Crisis communication is a reactive process that has little ongoing continuity past its immediate impact. Your employee issues a tweet causing the social media universe to explode. The FDA issues a food recall, or someone files a lawsuit. These crisis scenarios can last years, but presumably there is an end.

Issues management is more proactive in nature and allows clients to plan and tackle emerging issues. Clients most likely have a lead time (in some instances it could be weeks) to develop a strategic communications action plan, including internal and external strategies, to help clients manage the confidential issue at hand, such as a store closing, employee layoffs or a pending sale.

In recent months, the Rapid Response team at GroundFloor Media has worked with its clients and their respective legal teams to determine the best course of action to mitigate specific issues. As we always say, both crises and issues can impact a company’s overall brand reputation, so it is wise to approach both strategically, even in the eleventh hour.

While crisis and issues management are not terms we tend to think of positively, there are definite benefits to both. A Crisis allows a company to learn from potential weaknesses. Clients can tighten their internal processes, beef up crisis communication plans, and conduct additional message and media training with executives. Pending sensitive issues allow companies to coordinate an integrated internal communications effort to avoid, if possible, an issue from evolving into an eventual crisis.

As the communications liaison at your company, it is critical to maintain and wear your strategic hat during a crisis communication or issues management problem. To ensure you are buttoned up for your next crisis or issue, here are some tips to consider.

Crisis Communication and Issues Management Tips

  • Create a crisis communication plan that includes scenarios, messaging and a response plan. Revisit it annually and update scenarios and members of the crisis communication team.
  • Create a social media policy, and share it regularly with your employees. All too often what an employee believes is an innocuous remark on social media can come back and harm a company’s reputation.
  • Train staff on how to respond to a crisis or issue at hand, including conducting media and messaging training.
  • For issues management work, take the time to develop a plan or, if time is more limited, outline your strategic approach in a one-page memo.
  • Be proactive and hire an agency or outside consultant – even if they don’t execute, their strategic counsel and outside perspective on the issue can be invaluable.
  • Learn from your mistakes, and understand that trying to cover up the truth instead of making real reforms will continue to harm a company’s reputation for the long term.

~ Jen Wills