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Corporate communications

Under Armour Comms VP Explains Damage Control Strategy

Here’s a quick but relevant clip that our friends at AdAge posted yesterday.

Diane Pelkey — VP of global communications for Under Armour — explains how the brand tackled the fallout from the bombshell February Wall Street Journal story in which members of the U.S. speed skating team blamed the company’s products for their disappointing performance at the Sochi Olympics.

Pelkey’s point is simple, and it’s worth repeating: be transparent, don’t hide from the story and make sure to offer all relevant spokespeople to media contacts for comment.

While the success of the ensuing campaign may be up for debate, the logic behind the strategy is sound.

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CBS Obeys Twitter, Agrees to Drop Rihanna from Thursday Night Football

CBS made a wise move last week by announcing plans to suspend for one week (sound familiar?) a Thursday Night Football intro segment including a performance by Rihanna and a comedy segment featuring Don Cheadle.

Early this morning, the pop star let everyone know how she felt about the decision:

This development really had nothing to do with penalizing Rihanna or diminishing her star power, but CBS heard that tweet and responded.

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Walmart Comms VP to Resign Over Fake Resume

David TobarIn a peculiar story, David Tovar has announced his plans to resign from Walmart after spending more than eight years in various top PR roles at the big box chain. The reason? He was less than honest about his (alleged) status as a college graduate.

Tovar’s name isn’t new to us or our readers: he’s been a popular speaker at industry events like The Holmes Report’s 2013 Global Summit and PRSA’s recent corporate comms conference. He also made headlines by doing things like boycotting The Huffington Post over its “unfair coverage” of his employer, “fact-checking” an unflattering New York Times op-ed, and admitting that the Waltons sometimes have trouble keeping their shelves stocked.

In other words, he’s bolder than your average corporate communications executive — especially when it comes to massaging the truth about his background.

He tried to explain things to CNBC today.

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McDonald’s Still Trying To Figure Out How Twitter Works

Remember the “how chicken nuggets are made” video that McDonald’s Canada released back in February?

We loved it because it demonstrated how much better the chain’s Canadian wing is at the CSR game — and it got more than four million views on YouTube.

Today, however, the company seemed desperate to prove its own unfamiliarity with the clip in response to a tweet from the popular How Things Works account:

No, the GIF isn’t particularly appetizing. But the McDonald’s response is a little…contradictory.

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Home Depot Data Breach Could Break Record Set by Target

Home Depot

Bad news for Home Depot as the company presumably prepares to issue some serious apologies: a recently reported credit card data breach could quickly surpass Target‘s nightmare to become the biggest in history.

From The New York Times this morning:

Over the last few days, thousands of fresh credit and debit card numbers have surfaced on so-called carding sites, which are websites where stolen credit card data is sold…So far, all roads point back to Home Depot. And if the evidence uncovered so far proves to be valid, the hack could top the record-setting breach of Target’s network last December.

It gets worse.

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Bad PR: Malaysia Airlines ‘Ultimate Bucket List’ Competition

Malaysia_Airlines_B777-200ER

Straight from the files of What Were You Thinking? comes a “Bucket List”-themed contest from Malaysia Airlines that ranks as the second worst decision recently made by the beleaguered travel brand (the first was to retain its name in the “rebranding” campaign that started Friday with the elimination of 6,000 jobs).

As reported by Time, potential customers in Australia and New Zealand were recently invited to share their “bucket lists” (i.e., lists of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying) for a chance to win a free ticket.

We don’t even need to tell you why this idea was one of the worst possible choices for the company.

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Anthropologie Brings Us ‘Nipplegate’

breastfeedingAnthropologie shopper Ingrid Wiese Hesson recently spoke to CBS news about an unfortunate (and illegal, according to California state law) incident she experienced at the chain’s Beverly Hill’s store, which she is calling “nipplegate.”

Here’s the story:

After spending $700 dollars on “breastfeeding friendly” clothes, Hesson sat down to breastfeed on one of the stores plush vintage chairs. Before long, she was approached by a manager, who said “I’m here to escort you to the ladies’ room so you can finish breastfeeding…”

When the manager opened the door to the restroom, she apologized for the lack of a chair. “Of course the only thing in the bathroom is the toilet seat,” Hesson noted.

Hesson said she contacted the store manager later to find out more about what had happened. The manager “said there are other customers in the store, and she thought they would be more comfortable and you would be more comfortable,” she recalled.

The manager’s actions “won’t stop me from doing what’s best for my baby, but it could stop me from shopping at stores that aren’t tolerant,” Hessen said.

Frankly, this one shocks me because I swear I’ve come across an Anthro catalogue featuring a breastfeeding model in some tribal maxi skirt pedaling optional $100 nipple tassels to plug up leakage when not in use.

It just all seems to go against the brand’s bourgeoise bohemian ethos, amirite? Read more

SeaWorld Finally Confirms a Blackfish Backlash to Investors

SHAMU

SeaWorld has been very insistent in its messaging since CNN’s Blackfish expose surfaced with variations on “The documentary is skewed and it will not affect our business in any way.”

Despite this claim, the company and its firm 42West launched an aggressive campaign to counter the film’s influence and we posted extensively.

Time has revealed some small cracks in the  facade: Southwest Airlines, for example, recently ended its 26-year partnership with the resort while maintaining ties through the Southwest Vacations unit.

Today, however, the company officially changed its tune in a telling press release.

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Malaysia Airlines Positions Itself for Rebranding

malaysia-airLast month we noted that Malaysia Airlines, troubled by two recent tragedies, may undergo a name change as part of a coming rebrand. Today we learned a bit more about the financial details behind this project.

The airline, which turned to Ketchum to help manage the disappearance of MH370 in March, will transform from a publicly-owned and traded company into a private entity. State-run investment fund Khazanah Nasional wants to buy out the shares of the company that it does not already own, de-listing it and proceeding with a major restructuring that will almost certainly involve a comprehensive rebranding.

MA was in a bad way long before either of the flights in question. The company lost money during each of the past three years and will most likely go through a downsizing in order to stay open. Restructuring plans may face considerable opposition from the labor union representing its nearly 20,000 employees, however; the group has demanded the resignation of the company’s current CEO and, while its leaders agree that restructuring is necessary, they also expect to play a large role in all related discussions.

No word on whether Ketchum will assist in the coming changes.

Market Basket Parody Account Masters Investor Relations

Remember Market Basket? They’re the company that amazingly did not take our wise (in retrospect) advice about not firing the executive that everyone likes.

The firing was so unpopular that at least three separate Save Market Basket/People of Market Basket Facebook pages now exist; the most popular has more than 75,000 likes.

That’s not all: this morning Boston.com alerted us to the activities of a certain individual/individuals so invested in the future of Market Basket and its terrible PR decisions that he/she/they set up a parody Twitter account mocking the company’s board of directors.

More tweets after the jump.

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