Tag Archives: crisis

5 Steps to Avert a Crisis Before it Goes Social

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Crisis direct mail; Box © by robhowells87

Historically when a company encountered a crisis which was likely to hit the news headlines, brands and their PR agencies were contacted by the media and asked for a comment or interview. Fast forward to today’s ever-evolving social media landscape and the potential of a negative story going global in seconds is more than likely. So how do we handle the crisis to keep news stories, Facebook posts and Tweets to a minimum? Continue reading

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Giant PR Lessons from the Super Bowl Champions

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“We’re humble enough to prepare, confident enough to perform.”- Tom Coughlin, head coach, New York Giants

It goes beyond saying that I was on top of the world seeing the New York Football Giants come out the winners in Super Bowl XLVI. The story is well known: At 7-7, the Giants needed to win out to get into the post-season. Well, the rest is history, as Big Blue rolled their way to Indianapolis and defeated the New England Patriots for their second title in four years. Continue reading

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Why We Need Better PR in 2012

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Hard to believe we are only a few weeks away from the end of 2011. At this time of the year, we get to look back at the year that was and take stock. What was good? What was a major #fail? As is the case every year, there is plenty of bad news in the world. Of course, in the public relations industry, we have witnessed some pretty disastrous events, too (we’re looking at you, Charlie Sheen and Anthony Weiner).

This just hammers home that it is absolutely paramount to stress how important good PR is to you and your clients. Of course, you can never predict when a crisis is going to happen. But, why aren’t some doing a better job planning? Continue reading

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A “Fine” PR Mess for Syracuse

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Another month, another college sports scandal allegedly involving a respected coach. This scenario is (unfortunately) too familiar now. An assistant coach from a prominent athletic department is accused of molesting young boys.

The latest scandal involves the Syracuse University men’s basketball team and it’s associate basketball coach, Bernie Fine. A longtime coach under hall of fame head coach Jim Boeheim, Fine is being accused by two former university ball boys. They say they were molested by Fine starting in the late 1970s and continuing into the 1990s. Continue reading

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A Search for a Quack: Why I Think Aflac Got It Right

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“AFLAC!” “AFLAC!” “A FLACK!”

We’ve all heard that quack from the TV ads which annoying comedian Gilbert Gottfried made famous.  As a PR pro, I cringe whenever I hear it because it sounds like the duck is calling me “A FLACK!”

Personally, I didn’t really care whose voice it was behind “AFLAC!,” but when Gilbert Gottfried inappropriately tweeted offensive jokes about the tragedy in Japan, it got me fired up. Coming from New Jersey and working in New York City for many years including on 9/11, the thought of joking about a tragedy of this magnitude was disturbing. And I think I have a pretty good sense of humor.

What the Aflac PR team did to turn a crisis into a brand win is quite extraordinary. Here are five reasons why:  Continue reading

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Etsy – The Latest Brand to Disappoint

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Etsy, the online marketplace self-described as “Your place to buy and sell all things handmade, vintage and supplies,” is the latest brand to suffer a full on image meltdown. And, like BP, Tiger Woods and Toyota before them, they’re also the latest brand to resolutely stick its head in the sand as a way of dealing with PR crisis and the resultant public outcry.

A friend alerted me late last week to the fact that Etsy was allowing a vendor to sell some very offensive greeting cards and shared Change.org’s petition requesting Etsy remove the cards–to date supported by almost 16,000 signatures. This friend has a daughter with Down Syndrome and was espe­­­­cially horrified by a card like the one in the image above.

Let me back up and say that I’ve been a huge Etsy fan and supporter for a long time now.  I love dealing with craftsman and artisans and have patronized Etsy vendors for years, buying things like hair bows, laptop sleeves, jewelry, reusable snack bags and mesh produce bags and a myriad of other handmade things.  And I’ve often preferred to go to Etsy for the things I’m looking for rather than eBay because the community they’ve created has always evoked a good feeling. A feeling of trust. I’ve felt that the people I’m buying from are people I might actually want to get to know and maybe even want to hang out with – and I certainly want to support them by buying their wares. For me, that kind of feeling is like shopping at the local specialty store versus at a big chain – and Etsy did it for me. Continue reading

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How to Avoid Pitching in Bizarro World

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Suitcase near antique wooden doorway on beachUnless you grew up being too cool for school, you’ll remember the Superman comics where Supes stumbles into Bizarro World, where everything is backwards. Or at least really weird.

Bizarro World can occur at any moment in real life too, and it’s an affliction that especially affects flacks and their clients. Here’s what happens when a flack enters Bizarro World: every single news story, every possible current event starts to look like an angle for you and your pitch. It doesn’t matter how illogical or tenuous; you see your assigned product everywhere, important to everything, and necessary for everybody.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s great to love your client. But pitching in Bizarro World isn’t about being passionate or creative. More often than not, it’s a sign of desperation. And it inevitably leads to failure because a flack who’s been Bizarroed isn’t capable of making informed decisions about angles, pitches, and appropriate targets. Continue reading

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Twitter you made a fool of me!

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Teenage boy pulling fire alarmWait, maybe I made a fool of myself.

January 13, 2010, Twitter users alerted their communities about an explosion at Grand Central Terminal. Grand Central Terminal was allegedly evacuated and shut down by SWAT teams. Subway lines, specifically, the 4,5, and 6 were completely bypassing those specific stops or shut down as well. I work in Manhattan and in relatively close proximity to the station. I have co-workers commuting daily through that station, and many others that use the 4,5,6 line to go home. This is what happened after digesting the “warning”: Continue reading

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Plan Z

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Young boy playing with building blocks

Last week, while walking around downtown NYC with my 5 year old he pointed to one of the taller buildings while we waited to cross the street and asked (in his “I know the answer but I want you to know that I know” voice), “Daddy, do you know what will happen if that building falls down?”

He’s been a bit obsessed (and pessimistic) about meteors hitting the earth since we explained how the dinosaurs became extinct.  So whenever he asks ‘catastrophe questions’ we always try to assure him that whatever it is “isn’t going to happen” (assuming it’s true) and do our best to reassure him we don’t live a world where buildings just fall down or [insert catastrophe here]. Continue reading

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