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Crisis Communications

Reuters Has Some Ebola Crisis Advice for Burson-Marsteller

Texas Health

Pic via Mike Stone/Getty Images

Late yesterday, a writer at Reuters responded to the news that Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital had hired Burson-Marsteller with some very healthy skepticism…directed not at the firm but at its client.

Steven Brill, founder of both Court TV and American Lawyer magazine, notes that hospitals are generally “terrible at dealing with the media,” and he has some not-quite-friendly suggestions.

His basic points:

  • While most of the public has good impressions of hospitals, most don’t realize that this one and its executives make a lot of money, that very little of its revenue (1.3 percent) comes from charity, and that it is “among the most successful businesses in northern Texas”
  • No one seems to know whether a quality-control committee reviews the number of patients who contract infections — Ebola or otherwise
  • The hospital’s position on nonpayment (which obviously applied to the late, uninsured Ebola patient Thomas Harris Duncan, who was sent home after his first trip to the emergency room) has not been made clear

Brill’s suggestion is that “we’re sorry; mistakes were made” statements can only do so much and that Texas Health will have to go far beyond playing basic defense. He even encourages reporters to seek out hospital employees who will address these issues if the organization’s designated spokespeople do not.

We doubt the org will be so open, but for the record we hope journalists on the scene take his advice. Millions of people will be watching.

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UPDATE: Sears Apologizes for Third Party Connecting Them with Third Reich

Sears-SorryYesterday, we brought you the distressing story of Sears and Amazon trying to serve the niche (and morose) market of Goths and Emos.

Why? Who knows, but there it is — a business plan to reach the supercilious and splenetic kids down the hall…swallowing razor blades and considering hematolagnia.

In short, they were selling Swastika rings not because of the whole Nazi thing but because it’s trendy. In less than 12 hours, Sears proved that it is still a retailer for the common man while Amazon proves it is…not. One communicated directly with the media, while the other chose to ignore headlines (and customer complaints).

By understanding its own crisis communications plan, Sears proved that it really does have everything.

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CDC: Dallas Nurse Contracts Ebola Due to ‘Inadvertent Breach of Protocol’

Dr. Mark Lester

This past weekend in the Dallas/Fort Worth region was supposed to be all about the Texas/Oklahoma game at the U.S. mecca of fried food: the State Fair of Texas. We had great weather, but something was looming…and it wasn’t good.

North Texas has been a little hysterical lately given the goings-on of the past couple of weeks. A man named Thomas Eric Duncan left Liberia, came to Dallas, and brought with him the first confirmed U.S. case of Ebola. Regretfully, he lost that fight, but not before the hospital caring for him entered an ongoing PR battle.

Now, one of the nurses who did the caring has contracted the disease. And the hospital may have a case of the PR yips.

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Jennifer Lawrence Breaks Silence on Leaked Pics

J LawUnlike some of the other names involved in the recent nude pic leak that inspired Tim Cook to sit down with The Wall Street Journal and defend his company’s iCloud offering, Jennifer Lawrence had been silent until today.

In a perfectly coordinated act of public relations, she spoke to Sam Kashner of Vanity Fair in an exclusive follow-up to a piece already set to run as a teaser for the third film in the Hunger Games series.

Some key quotes:

“Just because I’m a public figure, just because I’m an actress, does not mean that I asked for this. It does not mean that it comes with the territory. It’s my body, and it should be my choice, and the fact that it is not my choice is absolutely disgusting. I can’t believe that we even live in that kind of world.”

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British Retailer Posts Internal ‘Sell More’ Message on Window

sainsbury

Every employee receives the occasional rah-rah message from the boss: “Do better, act better, sell better,” et cetera. Everyone knows this happens, but they don’t really don’t want to be reminded of it — especially if they’re customers of said business.

Enter UK retailer Sainsbury’s, which posted one of those messages about making customers spend more than they want…outside its own establishment.

Before you ask: of course Twitter noticed. 

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Uber Basically Uses the Same Statement Every Time a Driver Gets Into Trouble

uberHere’s a basic principle to keep in mind if you’re in charge of speaking with the media when there’s trouble: switch up your message. Your response is going to be quoted, it’ll go online, and it’ll be Google-able.

Buzzfeed noticed that Uber has a tendency to repeat some version of the same line when one of its drivers gets into trouble: “Safety is our #1 priority.” And they’re using it no matter the circumstances – when a driver had a seizure and hit a pedestrian, when another groped a female passenger, when another was caught with liquor and weed in the car, when another hit someone with a hammer, etc.

There are two lessons here. First, if you sound like a broken record, people will stop listening. And second, have a short conversation with your Uber driver before you get in the car.

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Yum Brands’ New Concept Changes Logo Because Texans Hate Communism

Banh-Shop-in-Dallas

Ever heard of Banh Shop? If North Texas had its way, you wouldn’t have had the opportunity.

Banh is the shiny new toy of Yum Brands, owner of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. In the opinion of the powers-that-be at Yum, the bánh mì sandwich is the next new sub sammich, burrito, or fish taco. In case you aren’t familiar, we’re talking Vietnamese-style sandwiches made of meat or tofu baguettes with various accoutrements.

There’s only one problem: they’re all cooked by Commies!

Look at the picture and see if you can tell why this place freaked North Texans out.

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Does Social Media Make Crisis Communications More Difficult to Manage?

Crisis-magnifiedMuch like the Internet changed the way people read the news, social media drastically altered the way PR pros develop our strategies.

Every aspect of media relations, public affairs, and client outreach has been influenced because every person has a voice on whatever online network he/she chooses. However, the one area in which most of us are just beginning to understand social’s influence is crisis communications.

All crisis communications plans are being rectified, teams are being reconstructed, and ideas are being changed because the information vacuum of social media can suck a little if you don’t prepare accordingly.

The question is: When it comes to social media and crisis communications, is “preparation” even possible? An answer may be in a story involving a canine hater and former CEO of Centerplate named Desmond HagueRead more

STUDY: President Obama’s Ratings Hit Another Record Low

obama ratings

From ISIS to the economy, domestic drama to foreign policy, it seems that the President is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

Last month, the entire U.S. government received the deplorable edict of the worst approval rating ever, with 71 percent of respondents saying that the country is “headed in the wrong direction.” The same Gallup poll revealed that only 41 percent of Americans approve of the work done by the Oval Office.

This month it got worse.

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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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