I have to admit, I’ve never heard of the game Words With Friends. That is until Tuesday. Actor Alec Baldwin was kicked off of an American Airlines flight earlier this week after a flight attendant asked him to turn off his cell phone which he was using to play the game as the plane was waiting to taxi for takeoff. The actor refused and subsequently he was booted from the flight but not before proceeding to go on a tirade, slamming a bathroom door and later posting derogatory tweets about American Airlines on Twitter using a vindictive hashtag (#nowonderamericanairisbankrupt) to express his “outrage” at what us normal citizens would call “proper protocol” on an airline. Continue reading
Last week, I had the honor of representing PRSA at an American Conference Institute panel on managing social media crises in the digital age. Joining me on the panel were three whip smart PR execs in Sandy D’Elosua (Front Burner Brands), John Moran (Schwartz MSL) and Jenny Dervin (JetBlue Airways Corporation).
Our full presentation is embedded below, but let me just say that my commentary paled in comparison to what my fellow panelists offered. Especially Ms. Dervin, vice president of corporate communications at what may be the epicenter for crisis communications management in the digital age: JetBlue. Continue reading
Another week, another PR crisis. This one comes by way of the Quixotic, pie-in-the-sky Silicon Valley start-up Airbnb, which allows people to rent their apartments, a bedroom or even their living room floor to complete strangers, with little to no background check of that person’s character. Think about how absurd that concept sounds.The crisis in question involved a San Francisco woman, known only as EJ, who blogged that she was the victim of a heinous property crime by a guest who arranged to stay there through Airbnb. In what is being called “#ranscackgate” (sidebar: Another “gate”? Really?), Airbnb has, perhaps not surprisingly, totally flubbed its response. Continue reading
Without question, my favorite part about Twitter is crowdsourcing. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a passionate POV or a question I couldn’t answer, shared it on Twitter, and been amazed at others’ perspectives and how much I learned from my industry peers.
A couple of weeks ago one of these situations came to life. In the past year, I have seen more and more agencies and companies advocating for a social media crisis plan. And to be completely honest, I don’t get it. Social media is a channel. A crisis often affects your brand far beyond Facebook, Twitter or the blogosphere. In the end, your reputation lies in the hands of your customers and influencers. And those people don’t just live in a social media bubble.
Sure, a brand can employ social media to communicate in near real-time when a crisis strikes. And for most, that tactic will make sense. But isn’t it just one or a few pieces of the overall crisis plan puzzle? If you ask me, our PR peers too often sell social media crisis planning as a scare tactic because they know the social response is the part brands worry they can’t control. But on the other hand, social media does play a significant role in crisis communications these days, so maybe it’s just semantics and I’m getting all worked up over nothing? Continue reading
Saying Monday that #snowloko was “inconvenient,” while urging New Yorkers to see a Broadway show (seemingly oblivious to the fact that millions of outer-borough residents were literally trapped in their homes — and would be for several days — because of his administration’s mismanagement and bungling of the cleanup effort) Bloomberg perfectly exemplified a new reality that is starting to emerge in crisis management in the digital age: words, much like images, can make or break you. Continue reading
On Aug. 6, HP announced that its Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Mark Hurd was resigning from the company. The announcement followed an investigation conducted by HP’s internal and external legal counsel into a sexual harassment claim lodged against Hurd and HP by a former HP contractor.
While the investigation determined that Hurd did not violate HP’s sexual harassment policy, it nevertheless uncovered a related offense, which ultimately prompted his dismissal. Hurd, according to HP, breached the company’s Standards of Business Conduct by making inappropriate payments to the contractor and charging personal expenses to his corporate expense account. Continue reading
I had a conversation last week with some really bright folks who run a social media agency in New York that works with several Fortune 500 brands. We got to discussing crisis communications within a real-time setting, and how they could effectively use social media to almost instantly respond to a crisis and mitigate its effects.
Throughout the conversation, we kept coming back to the point that in order to properly handle any type of crisis in real time, no matter what the brand or situation, you need a proper plan in place well before the crisis even hits. Because no matter what type of media you are using to monitor and respond, you always need a plan in place that details exactly how, who and why you will respond and the type of response you will give to different audiences to ensure their concerns are addressed appropriately. Continue reading
The concept of public figures getting caught up in racist scandals isn’t exactly brand new – many a good reputation has been permanently tarnished thanks to misspoken words and overheard conversations. Even though their careers are getting back on track, people won’t be forgetting the ignorant words of Don Imus or Mel Gibson anytime soon and their brands now have entirely different connotations. However, the entertainment world was still rocked a few weeks ago when John Mayer’s offensive and way-too-honest interview with Playboy Magazine was released. Continue reading