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Crisis Communications

More Tips for Avoiding and Containing Social Media Crises

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It’s only Tuesday, and already this week has seen a year’s worth of headlines regarding major airlines and terrible publicity on social media.

The incidents–whether self-inflicted or not–were severe enough to inspire yet another round of questions regarding a brand’s ability to both stand out and defend itself online.

We spoke to Peter LaMotte, SVP at LEVICK and Chair of the firm’s digital communications practice, for insights on this topic.

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Mazda Recall Is an Arachnophobe’s Worst Nightmare

*Someone needs to give me a medal for inserting this image into this post without yielding to a complete mental breakdown

Disclaimer: This PRNewser writer is the definition of an arachnophobe — meaning, I would sooner hop into a burning car than one filled with spiders. Think that’s kind of a strange and specific example? Think again.

I learned about this bit of news via a text from a loving family member who has spent our lives demonstrating that love through acts of spider-related harassment. “Hear about the Mazda6 recall?” it read. “It’s your worst nightmare.”

According to Reuters, for the second time in three years, an eight-legged engineering challenge called the Yellow Sack Spider has caused Mazda Motor Corp to issue a major recall for Mazda6 sedans in North America; the spider, which likes the smell of gasoline (who doesn’t?) weaves a web that blocks a vent in the engine. These webs can restrict fuel flow, reducing fuel tank pressure when the emission control system releases vapors from the evaporative canister. This can put extra stress on the fuel tank, which could potentially crack and leak fuel, increasing the risk of a fire.

That’s right. Spiders are trying to blow you up. Read more

Malaysia Airlines Turns to Ketchum in MH370 Crisis

malaysia-airlinesWhat’s the toughest PR assignment in the world right now? If you said “Malaysia Airlines” then you’re right.

Friday brought news that Ketchum, a firm hardly afraid to take on the most challenging accounts around, has signed with MAS to help navigate the ongoing crisis.

The Holmes Report notes that the airline hired Ketchum several days after flight MH370 first went missing but kept the news quiet for obvious reasons.

The most interesting comments in the story come from the former head of communications for Malaysia Air, who admits that the company could have been a bit more sensitive to the concerns of passengers’ family members and avoided problems like the many misleading headlines about the text sent to parents and relatives.

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Free(dom) Falling: Heavy security concerns with One World Trade Center

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If only this chick could protect the Freedom Tower. I mean, she is staring at it.

The past few weeks haven’t been the easiest for the NYPD, the City of New York, and specifically, the “most heavily secure building in America,” One World Trade Center.

As what is believed to be the terrorist’s top target for evil, everyone in this country would consider this place to be guarded like Fort Knox (or even the government secrets the Kardashians have because they’re still out there for some dumb reason).

However, if you consider the litany of bad PR and astounding security breaches that have taken place recently at One World Trade Center, it would be easy to see how the idiot who tried to blow up his own stank boxer shorts on a plane could be successful at this hallowed site.

And now, we have a half-blind security guard … who was caught on video falling asleep on the job. Wait, what?!

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Malaysia Airlines Texts Family Members: ‘We Have to Assume’ That MH370 Crashed in the Indian Ocean

In the early stages of the long and frustrating story of flight 370, we reviewed Malaysia Airlines‘ crisis response and gave the company a hesitant thumbs up: all boxes checked, all media assets dedicated 24/7 to news about the airplane.

This morning, however, brought a move that will almost certainly satisfy no one. As teams around the world race to find definitive evidence of the flight’s fate, the Malaysian government and the company itself told the media and families of MH370 passengers that the case is effectively closed. Here’s the text, sent in English, to Chinese relatives of flight 370 passengers:

We think most readers will agree that this might not have been the most personal way to make such an announcement.

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak’s statement, made directly after the text:

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Startups Like Airbnb Are Getting Better at Addressing Viral Scandals

airbnbAllow us to overgeneralize in writing that tech startup founders can sometimes come across as…what’s the word…aloof. Arrogant. Condescending.

Maybe all that adulatory media coverage goes to their heads. The point, as Valleywag reminds us every day, is that they don’t always respond to challenges in the most effective or sympathetic way.

Yet a PandoDaily post this week argues that companies like Uber and Airbnb are getting better at crisis communications, and we have to agree.

You probably read the viral story about one Airbnb client whose apartment served as the set for a “XXX Freak Fest” (NSFW). Rather than dismiss his complaint as the cost of doing business, the company changed his locks, paid for his hotel stay and wired him thousands of dollars to cover the literal clean-up cost.

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5 Quick Tips for Your Next Crisis Communications Plan

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It’s going to happen, so where’s your umbrella?

Crisis — It only exists because you aren’t prepared.

That’s the difference between one of those and a tragedy. There is absolutely nothing you can do about nature going bananas, colossal malfunctions or the dregs of society out on parade. Those things will inevitably happen when you least expect it. However, your ability to be prepared for the inevitable — or inability thereof — is what makes it a crisis.

I was thinking about a crisis communications plan watching any news report about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. While the entire world is watching what seems to be a real-life episode of the “X-Files” happening, the loss of life is tragically becoming a secondary story. When they are found, the crisis plan kicks in. Will they be ready? Would you?

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GM CEO on Recall Crisis: ‘Terrible Things Happened’

Here’s a case study in double duty internal/external crisis communications via General Motors and The New York Times.

This video was broadcast to employees, but it was clearly also meant to be a public statement; it’s been published on multiple news sites today.

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Failed U.S. Airways Flight Passenger’s Selfie Goes Viral

You may have already seen this week’s most epic selfie, but we’ll post it again as a reminder that, whenever something embarrassing happens to your major international client, chances are fairly good that someone will take a picture of it—and if the pic is as great as this one, it will be widely shared.

A quick glance at the photographer’s feed also demonstrates that, in cases like this, every single journalist in the world will then scramble to be the first to score the scoop and the exclusive interview.

Social media: it’s a mixed bag!

Recall Looks Like Big Trouble for GM

General-MotorsWe knew the story of faulty ignition switches, airbag failures and the subsequent recall of 1.6 million General Motors automobiles would make for terrible press. But the most recent revelation will almost certainly compound the problem: last night we learned from GM’s own reports that it knew of the issue approximately three years earlier than previously reported.

Of course, this finding will only help to fuel the “novel” lawsuits waiting to be filed.

GM has taken some crisis comms 101 steps to address the problem:

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