Posts Tagged ‘Crisis Communications’

What’s In a Name, Part Two

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

We cannot think of two entities who share less in common than Al-Qaeda and the security company formerly known as Blackwater and Xe, now known as Academi. Oddly enough, to escape negative attention, they are both looking to rebrand in a similar fashion. As blogged about here; Blackwater Xe Academi, for the second time, recently changed its name to escape its track record and associated bad press. Now Al-Qaeda is doing the same.

As Al-Qaeda will learn, no amount of name changes will make people forgot that you are the organization responsible for the widespread murder of civilians throughout the world. At the end of the day, a reputation is built on more than a name. It is hard for companies such as Blackwater Xe Academi or, in this case, terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda to simply change a name and start over. The road to reputation recovery is often long and complicated.

Pointing the Finger

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Herman Cain is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Usually a public figure facing allegations they believe to be false can wait for the truth to come out and then rebuild their reputation from there. It is not that easy for a prospective presidential candidate counting the days until the 2012 election while carefully watching every poll number. Charges, real or fake, such as these can gain legs and begin to hurt poll numbers very quickly.

Here is how Cain is responding to the charges;,0,4756421.story

Cain has taken the offensive in denying these allegations that he adamantly believes to be lies. We don’t necessarily disagree with this tactic as long as it is done in the proper way.  By throwing counter claims at the accusers Cain risks falling into the same exact trap. If it turns out there is any shred of fact to their claims then Cain looks extremely foolish and can kiss his political career goodbye.

How would we handle this?

Cain is not wrong to publicly dispute these charges if he believes them to be false, He should not however, come out and point the finger and throw around counter claims. If he never met the woman, say that. If he met her but is 100 percent confident it never went further than that, say that and if possible provide proof. Do not ever say anything you don’t have evidence of… Because you can never take it back.

Crisis Managers on the Front Page

Friday, November 4th, 2011

As you can see from this Fox News story, the work of crisis communicators and reputation managers is never far from the front page. This case will be particularly interesting to follow due to Bieber’s clean image and the highly damaging charges leveled against it. As we have seen, even when the charges are false, reputation damage can occur. We will be closely following this story in the weeks to come.

BlackBerry’s Big Breakdown

Friday, October 14th, 2011

While Apple has been preparing to release the new iPhone 4S this week, another Smartphone contender has been trying to mend a communication crisis that started overseas and eventually made its way to the United States.

BlackBerry and its creators, RIM (Research in Motion), have had their hands full after a hardware breakdown happened on one of their overseas networks that soon after created a data buildup. Many BlackBerry users were frustrated to find out they could not send or receive messages or calls, and could not access their emails or internet. The issue was finally resolved on Thursday, October 13th, but did RIM’s crisis communication team handle this well? Let’s take a look.

What they did RIGHT:

  • Provided  a link on RIM’s homepage to live updates about the service outage
  • Held a service update press conference
  • Created a video from RIM Founder and Co-CEO, Mike Lazaridis, apologizing to those affected and ensuring that the company is working restlessly to resolve the problem Watch Lazaridis’s Statement
  • Provided access to a conference call with RIM Co-CEOs

What they did WRONG:

  • Failed to utilize social media efficiently to communicate with their customers as the video apology was posted days after the hardware breakdown occurred
  • Did not provide a sufficient statement on the issue right away
  • Created a video where Lazaridis was clearly reading off of a teleprompter – causing some viewers to believe the apology was insincere

Now that the service outage has been resolved, BlackBerry will have to do a lot to mend their reputation, especially since it’s not the most popular Smartphone on the block anymore. RIM’s crisis communication team did some things correct, but hopefully they will learn from their mistakes and prepare an even better plan if this happens in the future.

Ground Control to Southwest, We Have a Bit of a Problem

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Southwest Airlines has a very severe issue on their hands. Find the story here.

If Leisha Hailey’s version of events is true then this story alone would be a huge reputation issue for Southwest Airlines. But it is pretty easy for us or any business owner to say that this violates one of the central tenets of running a business, do not discriminate.

That could have been the end of the story. Southwest’s response to Ms. Hailey provided more fuel to the fire however. Before even receiving all of the facts, Southwest issued this statement;

“Initial reports indicate that we received several passenger complaints characterizing the behavior as excessive. Our crew, responsible for the comfort of all Customers on board, approached the passengers based solely on behavior and not gender. The conversation escalated to a level that was better resolved on the ground, as opposed to in flight. We regret any circumstance where a passenger does not have a positive experience on Southwest and we are ready to work directly with the passengers involved to offer our heartfelt apologies for falling short of their expectation.”

True or not, this statement ignited a Twitter firestorm that Southwest could have easily avoided or at least, stemmed off. As a prominent business Southwest should know it is better to issue a statement of fact only after investigating both sides of the issue. We are not saying that the customer is always right but they do deserve at the least to have their side of the story heard. Even though they do say “Initial reports…”, it still appears as if they are making a statement of facts based on one side of the story. A better statement at this point would have been;

“We regret any circumstance where a passenger does not have a positive experience on Southwest and we are ready to work directly with the passengers involved to investigate their claim. We pride ourselves on our commitment to diversity and our response to any allegations of unfair discrimination.”

Instead of jumping to conclusions, that statement offers an apology and a promise to fix the issue. A much better statement but as they will soon learn, one statement will not simply make this problem disappear.