Posts about Crisis Communications

What We Heard: COVID-19 PR & Marketing Survey Results

A few weeks ago, we asked the Virginia PR and marketing community to participate in our survey to assess how COVID-19 has impacted our profession. We were fortunate to have 139 professionals respond – and if that includes you, thank you!  At this point, it’s more than a little trite to simply say COVID-19 has impacted our profession. Not to mention the additional unrest. Months into the pandemic, that’s a well-established reality. Some of the most pressing questions we’re now looking to answer include, to what degree and how do we best help our organizations clients move forward?  There’s still …

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Baseball’s botched communications crisis

A sure sign of spring is (usually) the start of the Major League Baseball season. However, before the current pandemic erupted, a dark, dark, dark cloud lingered and threatened the integrity of the game as much or more then the steroids era of the late 1990s and early 2000s. And to think, a sound crisis communications reaction could have pacified the situation. Even most non-baseball fans are aware that the Houston Astros were caught cheating during their world championship season in 2017. To catch you up, the team used technology to steal signs from opposing teams’ catchers and then relayed …

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PR considerations for “essential services” organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic

As millions of organizations across the country adapt to working remotely, others – those deemed essential services – have to continue operations as normal given the critical function they provide. For these organizations, this not only presents a litany of operational considerations, but PR ones as well for how to communicate to both their internal and external stakeholders throughout this crisis. Adopt a “when, not if” mentality that your organization will have an employee test positive As some organizations have already seen, even following all CDC and WHO guidelines isn’t enough to completely safeguard against COVID-19. Yes, make it abundantly …

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Marketing during a pandemic: Are you crossing the line?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten the distinct impression that my health and wellbeing is the most important thing to the companies I do business with. (And by that I mean, Josh, the consumer, not Josh, part of The Hodges Partnership.) Like you, I’ve received dozens of emails from retailers and travel companies, from my bank and dry cleaner, and even my barber shop, all of whom want me to know what a high priority they place on my safety.  At a time of such limited personal interaction, it’s comforting to know that somebody out there cares.  I don’t …

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The College Admissions Scandal: A Lesson in Reputation Management

I was on a long car trip a couple weeks back with an old college friend, and as the miles rolled by, we got a chance to share our perspectives on the issues of the day. He’s among my smartest friends (I tell him he’s easily in the “Top 50”) and works as an international consultant advising technology companies about go-to-market strategies. Like me, he stays up on the news, and despite the fact that we live 3,000 miles from one another, we seem to share common wisdom on many issues. When the topic came to the recent college admissions …

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What Brands Should Know about the Facebook, Cambridge Analytica Crisis

What happened? Cambridge Analytica (CA) obtained personal data of about 87 million Facebook users without their consent with the hopes that they could use this data to develop psychographic profiles of those users. The data was collected a few years ago through a third-party app that had to be downloaded by a user, and the app was approved by Facebook (it was created by a university researcher who claimed it was for academic purposes). Those who downloaded the app unknowingly gave CA access to their data and their friends’ data. Facebook has stated that it suspended CA in 2015 after …

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A Tale of Two Crises

A little more than a week after blogging about Facebook’s conspicuously tardy response to the Cambridge Analytica dustup, here I am again making much the same point: Nothing exposes a company’s core values more than a crisis. Facebook’s young CEO may like to think that the company puts a premium on speed, but that priority was exposed as a lie when it took 100 hours to utter his first words about what could fairly be called the social platform’s most consequential crisis. (If you missed that blog, you can find it here.) On the heels of that, now comes the …

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Don’t Have a Crisis Communications Plan? Then at Least Do This

Chances are, if you are like many organizations, there’s not a crisis communications plan sitting in your top drawer, one that’s been updated and rehearsed and that lets you sleep soundly at night should some emergency befall you. Undertaking the painstaking process of developing a crisis plan seems to be that task that never quite gets off the back burner, kind of like cleaning out the gutters – there’s always something more pressing or more interesting to do. But then, inevitably, it rains and, well, you know what could happen. As important as a crisis communications plan is, this is …

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Facebook’s Costly 100 Hours

How the company abandoned its core values in a moment of crisis

Five days. That’s how long it took Facebook to respond to perhaps the greatest crisis in the company’s relatively short life. This is not a commentary piling on the company for its failure to abide by one of the core principles of crisis management – to respond early and honestly. After all, they totally blew the former and the jury is out on the latter. But the delay was more than just a strategic mistake. With recriminations flying all around them, users threatening to abandon the platform, senators in high dudgeon over this lapse of security and the company’s stock …

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Finding a Seat at the (Head) Table for PR

Back in 1998, I was the director of communications for a Circuit City-backed startup that was poised to introduce a new product to the marketplace that we hoped would reinvent the video rental business.  Company management had made the strategic decision to pilot the product rollout in two cities where retail distribution would be strong – Richmond and San Francisco.  And so I went about putting together a media relations strategy designed to engender consumer excitement about the imminent availability of a product that had been years in development. This was going to be fun. But then I was handed …

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