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Corporate communications

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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General Mills Holds Its Nose, Leaps into Climate Change

GM-cereal

General Mills, the maker of Cheerios and other such consumer goods, took a bold step into the CSR pool this week by announcing that it would make changes to its agricultural practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously mounting related advocacy efforts designed to affect public policy.

What does this mean? From the company’s post on the matter yesterday:

“Nearly 2/3 of the GHG emissions and 99 percent of water use throughout our value chain occur upstream of our direct operations in agriculture, ingredients and packaging”

So they’re insisting that their suppliers get on board by reducing those emissions and “achiev[ing] zero net deforestation in high-risk supply chains by 2020″…or else. We assume.

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Apple’s PR Strategy Has Sprung a Leak

apple-logoAnyone notice a recent shift in Apple’s PR strategy?

The departure of longtime VP of worldwide corporate communications Katie Cotton seems to have marked the end of a certain phase in the company’s development, and way back in February 2013 the company announced plans to increase its PR spend and get more aggressive with message management efforts.

That news, along with Tim Cook’s decision to straight-up apologize for Apple Maps, clarified the difference between the new CEO and Steve Jobs (who would never admit to much of anything and held a notoriously tight grip on all communications).

Leaks are nothing new for Apple, but over the past week we’ve seen several:

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Internal Comms 101: Don’t Fire The Exec That Everyone Likes

demoulasUp in New England, the workers at the grocery store chain Market Basket are up in arms. The president of the company Arthur T. Demoulas was ousted last month over a family dispute. His wasn’t the only head to roll: two other execs were fired and seven stepped down according to Business Insider.

But it’s Demoulas’ dismissal that has the company’s employees riled up. To the point in fact that some of them were dismissed for organizing protests on his behalf.

And it’s not just the employees; local politicians are asking shoppers to boycott the store until Demoulas is reinstated. And shoppers look to be obliging that request. It’s turned into an issue that has sparked protests in the street and lots of coverage by The Boston Globe.

Business and family many times don’t mix. There are some big issues (including lawsuits) driving the rift in this family business. Generally, for the sake of the business, fights between partners have to be kept under control.

More than that, it’s a bad idea to can a leader that has the loyalty and dedication that Demoulas clearly has. Compromise would’ve been a much less painful option.

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Comcast Cries Mea Culpa on ‘Hellish’ Service Call…But Does It Make a Difference?

bad customer service comcast

Comcast pissed off the wrong customer last week when it botched a service call with Ryan Block, former editor of the tech site Engadget and product developer at AOL.

NPR called it “condescending“; Gawker called it “hellish“; The Verge called it “a nightmare“; Yahoo called it “terrorizing.”

As fellow PRNewser Shawn Paul Wood posted earlier, “flacks who enjoy the various #PRFail called it ‘priceless’”. In case you missed it, you can hear what went down at the link: Comcast ‘Provides’ What May Be The Worst Service Call Ever. ”

A week later, the company’s Chief Operating Officer Dave Watson calls it “typical”, saying the incident was “painful to listen to” but that the rep “did a lot of what we trained him…to do.”

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Could 18,000 Layoffs Be a #PRWin for Microsoft?

New-Microsoft-Logo-PPT-BackgroundsIf your stock portfolio contains Microsoft, today is a good day. If you happen to work for Microsoft, then it probably isn’t.

In case you’ve been living underneath a rock, the company announced this morning that it would eliminate up to 18,000 jobs, canning 14% of its workforce.

That’s a big deal on its own, but it isn’t the only story making headlines.

In fact, investors seem quite happy with the news.

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