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Posts Tagged ‘Crisis Management’

Why You Should Pay More Attention to Issues than Crises

Tuesday, December 27th, 2011

images9Everyone is well conditioned to jump into action when a crisis erupts. But what about when an issue is simply brewing on the horizon? Two thirds of all crises never need to reach crisis stage and could be prevented if a communications plan had been initiated when the problem was still an issue. Issues management is one of the most important aspects of corporate communications, but unfortunately, one of the most overlooked.

What is issues management? Issues management involves identifying and addressing threats to an organization’s ability to conduct business. These threats could include public policy, financial resources, competitor activities, legal threats, industry trends, investor relations, industry activists, etc. Any of these threats can damage a company’s reputation and its ability to attract customers and maintain profitability.

For the PR practitioner, issues management requires the skills and judgement of a seasoned professional. It’s risky business. Issues are unpredictable and demand flexibility in strategy and response. Things rarely go as planned. Clients are often uncooperative. It’s human nature to avoid confrontation and it can be difficult to get decision-makers to take corrective action and get in front of an issue before it transforms into a crisis.

But woe to those who don’t heed the warnings — an issue can quickly ignite a crisis if ignored or downplayed.

Here are some tips for initiating an effective issues management program:

1. Identify threats to your business and corporate reputation — develop procedures for identifying issues on an ongoing and consistent basis.

2. Analyze and prioritize threats

3. Develop strategies and action steps to mitigate threats

4. Monitor and adapt strategies as needed

5. Involve issues management professional in every step of the process to ensure strategies enhance your corporate reputation.

Well-intentioned leaders often exacerbate an issue by taking actions before fully evaluating the potential public relations consequences. That’s why it is critical to have a seasoned PR professional involved in issues management and strategic planning at all times. Issues management is a process that demands cooperation and collaboration across teams and departments.


Crisis Management at Gamecock Nation

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

I was interviewed yesterday about what type of crisis management strategies  Assistant Coach G.A. Magnus and University of South Carolina should employ to rebound from Magnus July 26 arrest for public nuisance when caught urinating outside a bar at 1:30 a.m. in Greenville, SC. Click on link below to view segment.

WLTX-TV segment on Crisis Management for Mangus


Beware of Brand-Bashing Badvocates

Friday, July 9th, 2010

images8I love it when PR folks coin a catchy phrase that succinctly captures a cultural phenomenon. “Badvocates,” attributed to Elizabeth Rizzo at Weber Shandwick, are people who stand on a virtual soapbox to criticize or detract from companies, brands or products. Simply put, they’re brand bashers. And left unchecked, they can unravel your company’s reputation — and bottom line — quicker than a jaguar in a yarn shop.

Thanks to the pervasiveness of the Internet and smart phones, consumers can voice their good and bad opinions about your company with just the touch of a button. And badvocates are passionate naysayers. They like to voice their criticisms early and often to whoever will listen. According to Weber Shandwick, badvocates represent 20 percent of adults online worldwide. And each badvocate reaches an average of 14 people. Yikes.

When people are unhappy, they vent their anger quickly — and most often, they vent online. Badvocates’ brand-bashing can get circulated around the globe within minutes. If your company is not actively listening to what’s being said online, you may be caught off guard by the media, customers and competitors who won’t hesitate to escalate the brand-bashing. Monitoring the online conversation can be educational as well. Badvocates often have legitimate gripes that if addressed, can help you strengthen your product line and maybe even turn that naysayer into a brand advocate.

The bad news about badvocates is that they typically control the conversation online and in mainstream media. Why? Because they are more proactive, passionate and prolific than their corporate targets. To mitigate badvocates’ impact, corporate America needs to step up communication efforts and prepare for disaster rather than wait for it to strike. Paul Barsch wrote a great blog for Marketing Profs in which he bemoans that too many businesses shelve or discard “’soft stuff’ such as brand management, press relations, crisis communications and the like . . . in favor of “just-in-time” strategies.”

The problem with the just-in-time approach is that it’s just too late. Restoring a reputation is significantly more difficult, expensive and time-consuming than protecting one. To make sure your business is well protected from the badvocates, consider launching a reputation “wellness” campaign. When it comes to reputation management, an ounce of prevention is worth at least a pound of cure.


What We Can Learn from Toyota

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

images4You know your reputation has taken a big hit when a Google search for “Toyota jokes” returns a host of really funny one-liners. “Toyota - This One You Ought to Tow Away” and “Toyota — putting liability in reliability.”  Poor Toyota? No empathy from me. With its resources, I’m sure Toyota has the world’s most talented crisis management practitioners at its beck and call. But they couldn’t have done a worse job at handling the sticky accelerator recall issue.

What happened? I don’t know, but they made several big mistakes.

  • Toyota failed to act decisively to address mounting safety problems.
  • Toyota didn’t take responsibility for the problems; it minimized customers’ concerns by pointing fingers at suppliers (and even drivers.)
  • Leadership took too long to apologize for its role in the debacle
  • Toyota didn’t outline an action plan on how to fix the problem

    When a crisis hits, customers need information online games pokies. They want to know what is going on, who is taking responsibility and how to fix it. But time and time again, corporations big and small spend lots of time and resources trying to minimize the problem rather than embracing it and dealing with it.

    Toyota will recover from this. But it won’t be soon and it will be costly. Their reputation has taken a tremendous hit. And customers’ trust in the brand is as rickety as a Prius’ brake pad.

    What Toyota needs to do now is get accurate information out to its customers quickly and often, and to articulate its 150% commitment to addressing these safety issues. Forget the corporate image ads. Give me information. Tell me when and where I can get my husband’s Camry fixed. And make it easy for me. And apologize for the inconvenience. Then apologize again. I’ll forgive you one day. Maybe.


    Crisis Management: Avoid A Crisis by Planning for One webinar slides

    Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

    Thanks again to everyone who attended our Crisis Management webinar! If you have any additional questions that we didn’t get a chance to answer, please feel free to leave it in the comments below and we’ll respond how we can there! Check back next week for a video of the presentation.



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