Tag: crisis communications

Planning and Prevention Goes a Long Way in Crisis Communication

Just read about a CEO with 8,000 employees who warned his employees that if one of the candidates for president wins, they could lose their jobs. How would you feel going to work every day for that company?

That’s an internal crisis:  one that is going to take some quick turnaround time to give his employees a comfort level. Communication is the key – traditional and social media took this story viral.

Then there’s the case of the custom-made steroid prepared by New England Compounding Center, a specialty pharmacy in Framingham, Mass., that has caused the outbreak of rare fungal meningitis from steroid shots for back pain. The steroid was recalled Sept. 26, 2012, but 13,000 people were injected and who knows how many people will die from it. That’s an external crisis:  one that should be addressed immediately with an internal crisis issue as well. Again, communication is the key – and traditional and social media are taking this story viral.

If your company experienced either an internal or external crisis, are you set up to tackle it right away? Do you have a crisis team in place with a list of cell and home phone numbers for quick access? Is there an attorney on the team? Do you know how to prepare and handle media inquiries? Who are the audiences you must reach immediately? Does someone in your organization understand how to use social media in a crisis?

Don’t get caught like the chemical company that was asleep when a crisis occurred and lost just enough momentum in communicating with their audiences to eventually put them out of business. There were high stakes, they gambled and lost everything.

Crisis prevention is very affordable and can be a company life saver. The Tylenol case is a prime example. They communicated well with their audiences often and honestly and saved lives and jobs of thousands of people.

Our message is to have a crisis plan in place, hoping you will never need to use it.  Any good PR firm will be able to help.  At Hermanoff Public Relations we do all of the above – and offer 24-hour crisis counseling.

It’s always better and safer to stay ahead of the curve.  And planning for a crisis is just one smart move before the holidays.

A Lesson in Humility from “The King”

By now you’ve heard the story of LeBron James.  You know, the one who was labeled as “The Chosen One” by Sports Illustrated when he was only 17?  The one who was drafted 1st overall in 2003 by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers?  And yes, that same one who infamously announced he was “taking his talents to South Beach” in an hour-long ESPN special, “The Decision”.  By the way, he’s the same one who finally won his first NBA Championship with the Miami Heat last month.

Oh, you’re not really a sports fan?  You mean you’ve never heard of LeBron James?

Well, you have now!

Photo Credit: http://latinotimes.com/sports/30726-lebron_james_champion_heat.html

To answer your question, no, this hasn’t become a sports blog.   However, perhaps you could see how LeBron James has done, what some might say, irreparable harm to his reputation.   In the business world, this would be similar to a long-time business partner announcing to the world via press conference that they’re leaving you to join a Fortune 100 company – as opposed to staying in business with you.

In the PR world, situations, people, and brands like these call for crisis communications management.  At the simplest level, crisis communications just involves telling your stakeholders, “I’m sorry.”  But when you have a situation like LeBron James on your hands, well – that’s when you have to pull out all of the stops in order to “win your baby back!”

Believe it or not, there is a lesson to be learn from LeBron James.  Last season he gave us a lesson in crisis communication management that you could apply to your situation.

1) Be genuinely remorseful – Admitting that you have a problem is always the first step to solving it.  At the start of the 2011-2012 season, LeBron James sat down for an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols.  In the interview, LeBron expressed his feelings of regret for “The Decision.”

2) Be humble – When you’ve suffered a serious setback to your brand, the last thing you can afford to do is continue to toot your own horn; after all, the effects of being humble stem from being humiliated.  LeBron learned that after the Heat loss the 2011 NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks.

3) Be supportive – That is, support a noble cause.  If you’re in damage control due to an external issue, it makes perfect sense to support an organization or initiative that relates to what got you in trouble to begin with.  For example, if you’ve been insensitive to a certain demographic, find a way to be a part of a progressive movement that serves those you’ve offended.  While LeBron didn’t offend one particular group of people (although Cleveland sports fans may disagree), he took a step in the right direction by supporting State Farm’s “26 Seconds” campaign to lower high school dropout rates.
4) Be yourself – At some point you have to stop apologizing to everyone.  Unfortunately, there will still be critics to anything positive you try to do.  Getting your brand back requires getting back to the things that earned your stakeholders to begin with.  Hey, there are actually people out there who forgive.  So go out there and make them smile!
5) Be great – Some say that winning cures many ills.  If that’s the case, then it’s time for your company to get back to being the best.  You may be surprised at how low your critics’ noise-level is compared to the praises.

Overall, the key to crisis communications is being genuine.   Your stakeholders have to believe in what you’re doing to make amends with them.  However, after so many apologies, they want to see things get back to normal.  At the end of the day, don’t just talk about it.  Be about it!